Australians reported losses of $80.2 million to social media scams last year – up 43% on the year before.

Scammers set up fake profiles on social media,  messaging platforms and apps. They pretend to be from the government, a real business, employer, investment firm, or even a friend, family member or romantic interest.

They may:

  • use the same logo of the real organisation or photo of the person they are pretending to be to make the scam harder to spot.
  • impersonate famous people to 'recommend' goods or services
  • create fake identities to befriend you and win your trust.

Scammers can also learn a lot about you from details you share on your social media accounts. They create quizzes or posts designed to deceive you into sharing personal information. They use this information to guess your account passwords or target you with other scams.

Warning signs it might be a scam

Stop and think. It could be a scam if the post or message:

  • suggest a famous person endorses or supports a product or service
  • come from someone you have only met online and urgently ask for money to help with a legal, medical, or business situation
  • threatens to share a private image unless you pay them money.

Social media scammers use common scam tactics such as:

  • saying someone will buy something you are selling without seeing it first and at a high price
  • saying they live overseas and can’t meet you in person.
  • offering items for sale at significantly lower prices than usual or compared to other sites
  • offering you a way to make quick, easy money with little risk or effort
  • inviting you to enter a competition or limited time offer.

Steps you can take to protect yourself

These simple steps can help prevent loss of money or personal information to scams.

Make sure the person is who they say they are

  • Research profiles to check how long an account has been active, how many friends or followers they have and how much activity they have had online including posts and photos. Lack of history, detail and followers can be a sign of a fake profile.
  • Be wary if a job is offered to you without an interview, or discussion about your experience, suitability, and references. Research the recruiter and the business or individual offering the position. Contact the recruitment agency via phone numbers sourced from an independent internet search.
  • If an offer appears too good to be true, it probably is. Research any investment opportunity fully before investing money. Visit MoneySmart for advice.

Be careful about what information you share on social media

  • Never send money to a person you have only met online
  • Never send personal pictures of yourself to someone you have only met online

Common Social media scam types

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