Watch Out For Social Media Scams Which Look Too Good To Be True

Pamela Connellan
on 31 August 2022

Research has found we’re currently experiencing a scamdemic and in a new twist, scammers are targeting social media. Kimberley from Wollongong, Australia was scammed recently when she invested in AI Marketing on TikTok. She says the content creators were pushing high profit margins but she ended up losing the $1000 she invested.

“Going through Tik Tok, I was being targeted by content creators pushing AI Marketing who were showing their profit margins made from their investments. After some time of following one of these creators and seeing how much money was made and how easy it was to take your earnings out of the account, I decided to invest,” she said.

“They only accepted cryptocurrency and I created an account and transferred over $1,000AUD in cryptocurrency. It wasn’t until I tried to transfer the money out of the account I made I realised it was a scam, as I wasn’t able to take money out of the account. I lost over $1000 through social media app, TikTok… I tell my friends and family to not trust what they see on social media if it seems too good to be true.,” Kimberley added.

The sad news is, Kimberley’s not the only one. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Scamwatch has reported over $336 million lost to scams in 2022 by July, compared with $323.7 million over all of 2021 – which is already a staggering 84% increase on 2020.

A survey carried out by antivirus company, Avast, has shown there’s a growing number of scams impacting Australians every day. One in four or 25% of those surveyed said they were being targeted multiple times a week via calls, text messages, emails or social media, and 19% claimed to be targeted at least once a day!

Scammers are using new avenues for scamming including social media

In the past, email has been the main way in which scammers have targeted their victims but now that risk has spread to a full range of communications channels – including social media. Research shows scams are still mainly reaching Australians via email (78%), text message (75%) and phone calls (66%). But there’s been a major increase in scammers targeting messaging services such as WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger (36%) and social media (31%).

Despite the mounting statistics showing this significant increase in scams, the majority of Australians (84%) still say they believe they can identify a scam, with a bold 61% saying they would never fall victim to one.

Stephen Kho, cyber security expert at Avast, says, “We are in the midst of scamdemic, and there is a clear disconnect between Australians’ perceived confidence in ability to identify a scam and the increasing amount of money being lost to scams each year.”

The research revealed that women are less confident in their ability to recognise a scam, with only 21% of women claiming they’re able to spot a scam, compared to 30% of men. As such, there’s a clear need for greater guidance when it comes to navigating the plethora of scams women may be running into every day.

So, what’s the solution?

Most Australians (85%) believe there needs to be more education about how to avoid falling for a scam, and Avast’s Scamdemic Centre is aimed at playing a role in this. Avast is encouraging Australians to share their experiences so they can educate the wider digital community and help tackle this growing issue by triggering important conversations and sharing knowledge.

Stephen Kho says it all comes down to speaking up: “The best tool we have for combating this scamdemic is to make a unified effort to speak up about our experiences to help educate others on what to look out for, as scammers become craftier and target us in new ways. We need to destigmatise the experience of being scammed.”

Stephen says this increase in scams is being fuelled by our own fear of embarrassment, with half (50%) of Australians admitting they would feel embarrassed if they fell for a scam. But the research shows the scammers are becoming much more sophisticated and nearly nine in ten (89%) respondents agreed with this – 44% said they feel scams are increasingly becoming more personal and targeted as well.

Many (45%) admit that they would be more likely to fall for a scam that addresses them personally by name. This is because scammers are using advanced technology to gain access to their victims’ personal information (i.e. text, email, social media). This is largely because these days we share so much information online, making us all easier targets for cyber criminals.

“Avast truly believes in prevention, as it is difficult to recover financial losses after being deceived into handing them over to bad actors,” Kho continues.

Here are Stephen Kho’s top tips to help you spot a scam:

  • The sender’s name is vague, and the email address is long or convoluted
  • The sender’s phone number is international or an unknown local phone number
  • The email or message is attention-grabbing or alarmist
  • The call you have received is from an unknown number with a robo speaker
  • The email or message urges immediate action of some kind
  • The email, message or call cites some pretence for seeking your personal information, including asking you to log in or confirm your details on a website
  • The email or message requests payment or a transfer of funds
  • The email or message urges you to click hyperlinked text or a link without clarifying where you are clicking

The Scamdemic Centre founded by Avast, can be found here.

About the research: The latest survey was conducted by Pureprofile on behalf of Avast, between 6th June and 8th June 2022, with a nationally representative sample of 1,010 respondents in Australia aged 18-65+ years old.

About Avast: Avast (LSE:AVST), a FTSE 100 company, is a global leader in digital security and privacy, headquartered in Prague, Czech Republic. With over 435 million users online, Avast has products which protect people from threats on the internet and the evolving IoT threat landscape. To find out more you can visit Avast here. Or for security and privacy insights, visit the Avast blog here.

For more from Women Love Tech on scams, visit here.


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