6 Biggest Social Media Scams To Look Out For

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Social media is booming – Facebook just celebrated over 5 million users. Twitter is a close second. It is a great way to keep in touch with family, friends, share photos and ideas. People love seeing their friends on these types of outlets because sometimes, we all live to far away to keep up relationships.

However, there are some scams that are creeping into these social media sites that you should be aware of. There are scammers trying to do everything – and anything to separate you from your hard earned cash.

Some of the most common scams as of 2011, are listed below, and don’t think they are only on social media sites – they try to scam you on email, craigslist and everywhere else you may venture on the internet.


One of the most effective scams is the ‘friend stuck in another country’ scheme, sometimes called a 419 scheme, which is making its rounds on Facebook. It is a message from a friend, or who is posing as your friend, saying they are stuck in a foreign country, have been robbed and need a little cash to get home. The message comes in your Facebook inbox, or via chat, but beware, it is someone who has hacked into your friends Facebook account, and trying to get your cash.

The same way people hack into friends email addresses, and send viruses to every friend in your contact list. That is just simply vindictive – but they send the virus so that they can get into your computer to obtain important information. Regardless, be aware of anyone at all, asking you for money or help. Double check by making a phone call or private email to your friend to verify this spam, and let them know they have been hacked.

Most of these types of scams are a result of a compromised user name and password. Sean Sullivan, a security advisor in F-Secure Corp said Facebook needed to brush up on their security protocol, as this is happening more and more.


The ‘free’ quiz scam on social media sites really irks me more than anything else. Some are IQ tests; some are character quizzes such as ‘what movie star are you’? But don’t fall for these, a lot of times they ask for your cell phone number to get your results. In doing so, they get hold of your number and it has been launched into media space. And you will most likely find mysterious charges on your cell phone bill, or even worse, others having access to your number and personal information. Be very careful about giving out any information, no matter how harmless they may seem, or how fun they appear.


This scam comes in too many forms to list, but the basic theme is ‘how to make money on Twitter’. They claim you can work from home and make a ton of cash just by ‘tweeting’. The email scam that had you believing you could make thousands of dollars by sitting at home has landed in Twitter.

Most of these schemes ask for a minor payment up front, which they claim are shipping charges for a CD that will teach you everything you want to know about making money on Twitter.

Yes, you get charged the small shipping fee, but now they have your credit card number, and people who succumbed to this scheme find ‘monthly fees’ charged to their credit cards, and they often have to cancel their cards to stop the charges.


This scam appears mostly on Twitter, but has been seen on Facebook as well. It is well known in the email circles, in which people belonging to a missionary or a doctor doing work for the less fortunate in Africa, or some such scam, ask for donations to continue their important work. This is a very old scam and is moving its way around social media sites. Don’t fall for it.


Crooks are finding all sorts of ways to get your information, and your cash and most recently, are using headline scams to do so. Clicking on a link titled ‘Help Japan’, or ‘Protect your Family from Radiation’ can lead you to a site with powerful botnets and viruses, not to mention information-gathering sites.

They have come up with a new method to fool you – shortened URL links. When they shorten the link, there is no way to tell where you will be heading. And once you click you ultimately land on a bad site.

Some of these URL shortening services have begun to filter out bad sites, but there is much work to be done, and Facebook and Twitter have no such filtering system, so don’t click on links you are not certain about.


Sexual solicitations are as old as the hills, and have been used in emails for many years. They come in the form of a sexy female or male that has a message embedded in the photo. This scam has been seen mostly on Twitter, but shows up on Facebook as well.

Messages such as “message me on MSN, ur cute” which after clicking on the photo, leads you to a p0rn or adult site. Embedding the message into the photo gets them past any filters set up on Twitter or Facebook. Once you are led to their site, they then entice you with a ‘free pass’ to view p0rn or other adult photos and videos. That free pass comes with credit card user information for verification of age. This type of site is a major lead to identity theft.

So if your feeling amorous, avoid these little chat scams, and avoid the flirts as well.

It all comes down to common sense. If something comes to you in email, or a social media site that sound intriguing, go find the information on the web yourself. Don’t click on any links, ever – even if they are from a trusted friend. We have all seen the scam emails coming from trusted friends whose email accounts have been compromised.

I see them weekly, and I generally write the friend to let them know that I’ve gotten a scam email from them so they can correct it. Sadly, the remedy calls for an entirely new email address.

These people are out there, and they are coming up with newer and more deceiving scams every day – don’t fall for it – it’s expensive to get a new hard drive, much less have your personal information stolen. The old saying ‘better safe than sorry’ certainly applies here.


Vishal Gaikar

Article by Vishal

Meet Vishal Gaikar, the tech wizard hailing from Pune, India, who's on a mission to decode the digital universe one blog post at a time. When he's not tinkering with gadgets or diving deep into the digital realm, you can find him concocting the perfect cup of chai or plotting his next adventure. Follow his tech escapades on Twitter and buckle up for a wild ride through the world of innovation and geekery!

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