Before there was TikTok, teenagers were buzzing about SnapChat. The platform founded in 2011 is still popular with people with younger users; a large proportion of its 229 million users are under 21.
Unfortunately, SnapChat has also attracted many frauds. One reason–young people represent the fastest growing segment of the population targeted by online scams. According to data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the number of people under the age of 21 affected by cyber fraud rose 156% between 2017 and 2020. Since then, fraud victims continue to be overrepresented among younger and older people.
Even though kids are often more sophisticated using technology than their parents, they may still have a lot to learn about staying safe online, not trusting people who claim to be friends, and sharing personal and financial information.
The following are the most common types of Snapchat Scams
Imposter frauds are common on social media, including Snapchat. Someone may hack into a friend’s account or impersonate someone on your contact list and ask for any of the following:
This person isn’t really your friend but wants you to click on a link so you will install malware onto your device. They may ask you to cash a check for them, which is bank fraud, or request an emergency loan. Then they disappear and obviously never pay it back.
A “friend” may innocently ask for a photo or data, but these are materials used by scammers to commit identity theft. If one of your Snapchat friends is making any of these requests, call or contact them through another means to confirm they were the ones who made the request..
Phishing and data theft don’t just occur on Snapchat’s platform but on fake customer emails that purport to be from Snapchat. You or your child may receive an urgent message from Snapchat that claims any of the following:
The email may look like an actual Snapchat email, but look carefully at the address and you’ll see it’s not the same. However, many people are tempted to click immediately without looking and instantly compromise their data.
Phony money-making schemes are common on social media. You may receive a message or encounter a fake ad claiming that you can double your investment in bitcoin in just a few hours or days or that you can quit your day job trading forex.
Social media, including Snapchat, is certainly not the best place to find online trading opportunities. Instead, research a regulated broker and ensure they have solid credentials before opening an account.
Most people have heard of the Tinder Swindler–a man who robbed women online with fake romantic proposals and promises. Unfortunately, romance and catfishing scams happen all over the web. What is additionally disturbing about romance scams on Snapchat is that many of the users are minors, which means that, in addition to the problem of cheating people out of money in a fake online romance, there may be issues dealing with the safety of minors.
Mature people can look for love online, but be careful before giving out photos and personal information, which can make you vulnerable to identity theft. Also, if someone who seems to have romantic intentions suddenly asks for money, even if it is a temporary loan or if the explanation sounds convincing, scroll on by–it’s probably a fake.
A lot goes on on Snapchat that is concerning, including adult material or inappropriate propositions. Sometimes, a user that represents themselves as a Suger Daddy will look for a younger person and claim they need their bank account information so they can make a deposit. Instead of money, they will make off with the money and disappear.
In addition, some users claim to offer adult content with a subscription, but they simply take the payment and don’t provide the content. The reason so many scams offer adult content is they are counting on people being too embarrassed to complain to authorities about having been cheated if they have to admit they were ordering something X-rated.
To combat the dramatic increase in Snapchat scams, it’s important to take measures to stay safe on the platform
Chat with your friend on Whatsapp, email, or by phone to verify that their request was genuine. The one drawback here is that a cybercriminal might have taken over all of their accounts, but usually, they start with just one. It may be a good idea to do a video or audio call to confirm their identity.
Once you click on a link, you could unwittingly be installing malware on your device. Be particularly suspicious if the link doesn’t have any preview or or no message from the sender.
It might mean taking an extra step, but it’s always best to not click directly on links from emails or messages, but consult contact information, and talk to Snapchat directly.
The only reliable way to earn money investing is through a regulated broker or licensed platforms. Avoid fly-by-night deals with huge promises. These are almost always fake.
Don’t accept requests from strangers, and always verify the identities of people who want to contact you on social media.
If you suspect you’ve lost money or data to a Snapchat scam, contact the Broker Complaint Registry right away. We will consult with you, work to track down your funds, and create investigative reports that will help you with your case.