Preksha Kasbe, 25, a student from Pune, woke up on Instagram to a direct message from her friend Sonali, who she knew from school. Excitedly she replied to her message and chatted about life in general like friends do. “But then Sonali switched the conversation to crypto investing and how it completely changed her life,” Kasbe told indianexpress.com.
Fascinated by the investment advice and the eagerness to make quick money, Kasbe asked about the lucrative business. “She (Sonali) said it was pretty easy. All you have to do is change your email address associated with your Instagram to an email address that she (Sonali) sent,” she said.
Things took a turn as soon as the email address was changed. Kasbe’s account got hacked and started posting fake screenshots on her profile of how she (Kasbe) got rich after receiving investment advice from Anna (the alleged crypto scammer). The hacker even started posting her photos with fake bank statements to trick her followers into investing their money in a scam token. When she called Sonali, Kasbe learned that her friend’s account had also been hacked. “This appears to be a chain reaction of fraud,” Kasbe added.
Vivan Dsouza, 27, a Jaipur-based stock trader, had a different story to tell. Like Kasbe, he also received a message on Instagram, albeit from a self-proclaimed crypto trading expert urging him to invest in Binance, a popular crypto exchange.
“After several days of talking I decided to invest in a new token listed on Binance but the catch was the link the scammer had sent was not from Binance but from a fake crypto exchange posing as Binance spent,” Dzsouza said. He lost Rs 10,000 and never received any cryptos in his wallet.
Cryptocurrency scams on Instagram are a new rage. These come with the promise of free tokens or secret insider tips on how to get rich quick with Bitcoin or another altcoin. While many of these are just ridiculous attempts to trick your personal information into stealing personal identity and data, some are more compelling than others. But one that stands out is the Bitcoin giveaway scam. The premise is simple: an account promises to give you a certain amount of bitcoin if you send them a small amount as a fee to claim the “free” cryptocurrency.
Scammers often use stolen photos to make their accounts appear legitimate. Disturbingly, scammers have started creating fake accounts to trick people into falling for their schemes, even though most legitimate exchanges and wallets have no presence on Instagram.
Unfortunately, there is no surefire way to avoid scams on Instagram. However, there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of avoiding an unsafe situation. First and foremost, check any information posted to make sure it’s legitimate.
“It’s important to remember that anyone can fall for an Instagram scam – even the most tech-savvy people fall for scams, and anyone can be scammed. In fact, the people who fall for scams the most tend to be younger people who aren’t quite as savvy when it comes to spotting scams. Finally, don’t be afraid to report scammers and suspicious accounts on Instagram. They can do this by tapping the three dots icon on their posts or profile and selecting Report,” said Sourajeet Majumber, a cybersecurity expert.
Another thing to be wary of is fake accounts that repost actual posts from legitimate companies. Many of these are created by bots that collect likes and comments from fake accounts. If you see an ad promoting ICO, Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency, do not click on it. Most of these ads are created for the sole purpose of tricking you into disclosing personal information and clicking on them will only redirect you to malicious websites that might steal your information.
Ultimately, the best way to avoid falling for a scam is to check for legitimate sources and double-check the information you read. When it comes to cryptocurrency, it is important to know how it works, how to invest in it and how to keep your money safe. Additionally, sticking to verified news sources and publications — especially when it comes to investing in crypto — can help prevent you from becoming a victim of a scam.