Instascam is the latest social media get-rich-quick phenomenon that is sweeping around the web – but it’s a fraud that has cost hundreds of investors more than £3 million.
Police are warning that fraudsters are advertising investment schemes on Instagram and other social media networks that promise quick riches for a small cash outlay.
Between October last year and February 2019, 356 scam alerts have been posted on the police Action Fraud web site by anxious victims who have lost money to the Instagram scam alone.
Thieves have stolen £3.168 million from them with promises of fast wealth – an average loss of £8,900 an investor.
The slick investments promise a high return will be paid against a £600 stake within 24 hours.
How the scam works
The victims then transfer their cash straight to the fraudster’s online account.
The crooks then send back doctored images showing funds building in their investment accounts and ask for more money to access the funds.
As soon as this is paid, the crooks shut up shop by closing the online accounts and disappear with the money.
The main users targeted by the scam are between 20 and 30 years old.
Inspector Paul Carroll, of Action Fraud, said: “Opportunistic fraudsters are taking advantage of unsuspecting victims who are going about their day-to-day lives on social media.
“It’s vital that you follow some simple steps to make sure you don’t fall victim to this fraud.
“If you think you have been a victim, contact Action Fraud.”
Staying safe online
Action Fraud also issued a set of hints about how to stay safe online:
- Never give personal or financial information to someone you do not know or trust
- Never transfer money to or from your account from someone you don’t know
- Take advice from someone else before making payments or signing contracts
- Check an adviser’s credentials with the Financial Conduct Authority to make sure they are properly licensed to talk about investments
If you believe you are in contact with a fraudster or fear you have lost money to a crook running a scam, contact Action Fraud online or call 0300 123 2040