2021 was a big year for scammers on social media, the Federal Trade Commission reported on Thursday. The 95,000 consumers who reported being scammed on social media was more than twice the number from 2020. The $770 million those consumers reported represented about one quarter of all reported fraud losses from 2021.
“The data suggest that social media was far more profitable to scammers in 2021 than any other method of reaching people,” the Federal Trade Commission relayed via its blog. Scams starting on social media have risen rapidly in the last five years. In 2017, 5,000 people reported $42 million dollars lost to scams originating on social media. In 2021, nearly 18 times the money was lost and nearly 19 times as many people fell victim to such scams.
Most often, consumers were defrauded after purchasing items advertised on social media that never arrived. When consumers reported a social media platform where this type of scam occurred, Facebook and Instagram were most often named.
Facebook and Instagram did not immediately respond to request for comment.
While undelivered purchases made up most of the instances of fraud, the most costly were scams involving bogus investments or romance scams, where a scammer fakes romantic interest before asking for money.
The Federal Trade Commission suggests limiting who can see your posts and activity, opting out of targeted advertising where possible, researching companies before purchasing from them online and taking out-of-the-blue online romances slowly.