Bureau warns consumers against new social media scam

*The Better Business Bureau cautions consumers to be ‘extremely careful’ online, especially when it comes to divulging information on social media platforms mostly filled with schemers hoping to enrich themselves by stealing from others

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

The Internet has not only become a primary channel for commerce, entertainment, and communication in the 21st Century, it is increasingly inhabited by scammers hoping to enrich themselves by stealing from others.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning people who use social media about a new scam that has recently surfaced.

The Bureau stated that it seems innocent enough – a post encourages the user to participate in a book exchange.

All you have to do is provide your name, e-mail, and the names and contact information of a few friends who also enjoy reading. You send a book to a stranger and get 36 books from people all over the world.

In reality, the BBB says it is an illegal pyramid scheme. Eventually, the books stop coming and your contact information, and the contact information of friends in family, have been given to a stranger, reports ConsumerAffairs.

Scammers on other platforms

Dominic Chorafakis, a cybersecurity expert at Akouto, says Internet scams have surged in recent years.

Chorafakis said: “There are definitely indicators on the tech side of things that show an increase in nefarious activity on the Internet over the years.

“Cybersecurity vendors offering products like anti-virus routinely publish trends and statistics that show an increase in the number and complexity of Internet-based threats. “These reports are backed up by independent research organisations, but also by our own experience at Akouto where we see the effects firsthand through our monitored network intrusion prevention programme.”

The cybersecurity expert also stated the widespread acceptance of cryptocurrencies had made it easier for online criminals to generate huge profits from their scams and access the funds with virtually no possibility of being identified by authorities.

Consumers encounter scams nearly everywhere

Besides the social media, report indicates scams are now widespread on many types of platforms in the cyberspace.

Danielia from Portland, Oregon, in the United States (US), tells us that she listed her car for sale on Autotrader for a week and received about 50 e-mails and about half as many texts.

She said: “Not a single one was a real human trying to buy a car.

“I went through dozens of longer conversations, wasting hours of my time, with scammers who ended up trying to scam me into buying fake VIN reports from specific sites, wanting all my personal info to send me fake certified or cashier checks to have me ship the car to them, people who started non-stop text messaging me trying to get me to mail them the title, changing phone numbers as soon as I could block them.”

Danielia also said she was unable to find a way on the Autotrader web site to report the scams.

Richard, of Malibu, California, also said he has even encountered scam projects on Kickstarter, a platform seeking donations for worthy causes, adding, that some of the causes are fake.

He wrote in the review: “After taking your money they simply disappear. Apparently, Kickstarter has no recourse, or any way to filter out these scams.”

Meanwhile, the lesson for Internet users these days is to be extremely careful online, especially when it comes to divulging information.

The BBB advice is to never give your name, address, e-mail, or other sensitive information to a stranger.

Doing so will make you vulnerable to other scams and identity theft online, the Bureau stated.

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