Social Media Cybercrime

YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat have become the staple for documenting every moment of life for a lot of people. There are some people who use these social media platforms to gain fame and notoriety, some who use it to keep in touch with family and friends, celebrate accomplishments and search for comfort during hard times. While others have use social media to prominently display their horrific crimes or portray themselves to others as a victim to commit a crime. According to the Bromium report, cybercrime using social media is a $3.25 billion industry in 2019. From catfishing scams to account takeovers to social high jacking, social media cybercrimes target all groups of people, from all walks of life, around the world.

Today, it’s not quite as cut and dry as knowing who your talking to, to prevent from falling victim. Social media pages are duplicated every day to mimic that of a friend or loved one. In a world where meeting someone new means swiping right; we must be hyper vigilant in how we protect ourselves. These crimes can cost their victims time, money and create legal problems. Here are some tips to assist you in protecting yourself.

  1. Never give your personal information to anyone online or via text message. If the messages you’re receiving seem off, it’s probably not someone you know.
  1. Change your passwords. Do NOT give your passwords to others and make sure to change your passwords often. We, as a society, typically create easy to remember passwords and we reuse them over and over for other accounts. This creates an open playground for anyone who has your password. From here cyber criminals can gain access to your information as well as your “friends” or “followers.” This information can then be sold on the dark web or used to open new accounts.
  1. If it seems too good, it probably is. The term “Catfishing” refers to a criminal who creates a false identity predominantly on social networking and dating sites for target a particular person or group of people. The end goal is to defraud the victim, fulfill a vendetta or to commit identity theft. In catfishing scams, the perpetrator will say all the right things to put their victims in a vulnerable situation. For example, the person may say things like they are in the military and have been discharged but need money to get home so the two of you can get married. In other common scenarios they may attempt to use cyber bulling and blackmail tactics to attempt to extort money or information from a person. Always trust your gut, if the person seems to perfect but too far out of reach it’s probably because the person you think you’re talking to isn’t real.
  1. Some things should remain private. Going on vacation? Just got a raise? Public oversharing is a real thing and documenting every milestone of your life create opportunities for cyber criminals to take advantage. You wouldn’t put an ad in your front yard that you’re going out of town and when; so why put it on your social media page? Not only are you inviting criminals into your home, you’re also inviting cyber criminals into your life as well.
  1. Know how you’re buying or selling online. Online shopping makes up for a vast majority of our commerce in the today’s technological society. Many people make purchase through ads they see on social media or virtual markets through platforms like Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist to sell items. In making purchases, make sure you know where you’re buying from. Anyone can run an ad on Facebook and Craigslist; the problem is that because these markets are not as regulated and structured, it’s easy for cyber criminals to place fake ads for products and services. From here the unknowing victim willingly gives the criminal personal information and even credit card numbers.

To reduce your risk, always offer to pay in cash and meet the person in a local, public location if possible. No matter ff you’re the buyer or the seller never go alone, there is safety in numbers. If a potential buyer offers to pay more than the asking price, pay with a check and asks to mail the payment; it’s most likely a scam. If a potential buyer is paying via a money transfer app such as Zelle, PayPal or Venmo, verify the payment is in your account by logging in directly prior to turning over the item.

Add privacy setting. Privacy settings are there for a reason, they keep your account more private that public settings do. If you don’t know the person, delete the request. If you think it’s someone you know but are unsure, double check to be sure.




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