An investment scam has hit Instagram and is believed to be targeting users in their 20s.
The “get rich easy scheme” has leveraged the power and reach of the social media app promising high returns within 24 hours after an initial cash investment. After the money has been paid, the fraudsters disappear and can no longer be contacted anymore.
Over the past five months, there have been a total of 356 complaints.
Initial reports show that more than £3 million in funds have been stolen via this scam but it is quite possible that the number is a lot higher as there are a number of victims who have not come forward yet.
The scam usually starts out small where investors are brainwashed into transferring £600 in exchange for high profits. This amount can be a lot higher as the scam artists use the power of high returns to get big deposits. Investors are reported to have already lost an average of £8,900.
The number is high because these fraudsters trick these Instagram users into investing more in order to yield “greater” profits. The fraudsters would also ask for a fee to release the money. After they get enough money, these scam artists end up shutting down the account and vanishing without a trace.
A Prevalent Scam
These fraudsters use professional-looking images in order to establish their credibility among users they label as “fickle”. ZeroFox, a company known to specialize in social media security, found that there are over two million public posts in Instagram which offer quick cash to these users, known as money-flipping. There are also millions of posts attesting to the “legitimacy” of these schemes.
These scammers have found a wide market audience especially in the UK by using common hashtags such as #instantcash on Instagram. Some of the other popular hashtags include financial related hashtags such as #financialhelp #moneyinminutes and #loans, to name a few.
A former scammer who refuses to divulge his identity says that they feed off users knowing that there are Instagram users out there who need money and want it the easy way. Usually, these are the people in their 20s, tired of their jobs or looking for quick money.
UK Authorities Issue Warning
The UK authorities have sent out a warning to British investors and are now on the hunt for these fraudsters. Action Fraud which is a police backed awareness organization are asking the public to be wary of the information that they post online, and what they share to strangers.
They are working with Instagram to close all of these money laundering accounts. The authorities have also educated young investors that there is no such thing as free money and if it is too good to be true – it is most likely a scam!