Online scams are a popular method for cybercriminals to steal large sums of money from unsuspecting victims. And, because variety is the spice of life, fraudulent orchestrators choose to deceive their victims through increasingly diversified dangers. These fraud schemes are frequently based on current causes, such as the COVID-19 vaccination campaign, or on repeated ideas, such as scams promising a large inheritance from a long-lost relative.
Today, we’ll look at operations in which online scammers use the identities and photos of wealthy and famous people to steal large sums from their adoring supporters.
This could be one of the most popular scams. Counterfeit bitcoin offerings have likely existed since cryptocurrencies stopped being the domain of Satoshi Nakamoto fans and began to create waves, now receiving more publicity.
Criminals employ a variety of ways to reach as many people as possible, frequently hijacking YouTube accounts with high numbers of followers or attempting to circulate fraudulent gifts via Twitter. The next stage is to request virtual money at a bitcoin address, promising to double the amount as part of the present. As you may have predicted, victims will never see the money offered in return.
Scammers frequently try to give the idea that the awards listed are sanctioned or even supported by various technology behemoths in order to make everything appear authentic. Bill Gates is frequently impersonated in these scams, which is an odd technique given that the founder of Microsoft has spoken out against cryptocurrencies. Elon Musk, on the other hand, is a major fan of cryptocurrencies and, as such, is frequently impersonated in such scams. The director of Tesla and SpaceX’s names were even integrated into the Bitcoin address itself in such an attack.
Some celebrities get quite interested in communicating with their fans, going live on social media platforms such as Facebook or Instagram. While fans appreciate their favorite celebrities’ efforts to generate content or answer their questions, scammers exploit live video to lure loyal fans into chasing money.
To do this, a fraudster will build phony accounts that are exact replicas of the real accounts of popular personalities, complete with posts, photographs, and videos that appear to be from the star in question. The name, on the other hand, will be misspelled or augmented with a word such as “TV” or “fan page.”
Following that, the author behind the fraud will broadcast live a video that was previously posted or broadcast live by the star, with a description such as “the first 1000 people who comment will receive 1,000 USD,” and completes the operation by using trendy hashtags to make the video easier to find.
When fans connect with this bogus video, they will receive a message with more instructions for claiming prizes, which frequently entail clicking on a link to a website where they must fill out a form with sensitive personal information or make a money transfer from the victim’s account. It goes without saying that she would lose money, and their information could be exploited in future scams.
Another typical scam, which also includes popular personalities, entails the creation of false accounts that impersonate celebrities and approach fans directly with various messages. This can happen on any social media network, such as Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.
The method is not sophisticated; the victim will receive a direct message from the bogus account, and the imposter posing as someone else will ask them to donate to a charitable cause that they claim to support. Alternatively, they could be offered tickets to non-existent private concerts or other enticements to part with their money.
As is common with these impostors, the victims will lose money, and the charity will never get the money raised from the victims. For example, a cyber thief posing as Bruce Springsteen stole over $11,000 from a victim.
Another frequent approach you may have come across is the following concept: victims are encouraged to give funds to “investments” that will be supported by celebrities.
Investment scams are nothing new, and they consistently convey the same message: the investment is maximized quickly and easily, and the outcome is always “assured.” It’s merely another type of already-known deception.
The scheme typically takes the form of various pop-up ads with items claiming an incredible return on investment, complete with the most enticing headlines such as “star X has invested in this company or product and earned a profit four times higher” or “celebrity Z advises you to invest money in the Y direction, because it could be very profitable in the future.”
The investment opportunity is usually fraudulent, but it may be based on a genuine one. However, the money will never be used for this reason. The only people who will profit from the scam are the criminals behind it.
Identifying scams like this isn’t difficult, especially since social media sites are taking steps to protect consumers and make it simpler to tell the difference between actual celebrities and impostors. When a “star” contacts you, the simplest thing to do is check to see if the account has been verified and has a specific emblem; Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter all use a check mark next to their username.
A fast Google search will reveal whether or not the numerous charity and investment options are legitimate. If they appear to be genuine, you can contact the group directly to discover if they are working with a certain celebrity.
To summarize, the greatest approach to defending yourself is to remain watchful and question anything that appears to be true. When it comes to your money, it never hurts to be cautious. If anything appears to be too wonderful to be true, it is most likely a fraud.