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£3m lost to Instagram 'get rich quick' scams in less than 6 months

Oscar Williams-Grut
Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
Apps for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social networks on a smartphone in New Delhi. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images

Bogus “get rich quick” schemes advertised on Instagram have scammed people in the UK out of more than £3m since October, according to Action Fraud.

365 reports were made to Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud and cyber crime centre, between October 2018 and February 2019. £3,168,464 was lost by users across all the scams, which is an average loss of around £8,900 per person.

“Opportunistic fraudsters are taking advantage of unsuspecting victims who are going about their day-to-day lives on social media,” inspector Paul Carroll, of Action Fraud, said on Monday.

A spokesperson for Instagram told Yahoo Finance UK: “Fake and fraudulent activity is not allowed on Instagram. We proactively fight against this type of content and are always improving our systems to quickly detect and remove anything that violates our community guidelines.”

Young people aged between 20 and 30 are particularly likely to be susceptible, according to Action Fraud.

Fraudsters typically advertise investment schemes that promise a high return within 24 hours. Victims make payments via bank transfer to the fraudster’s bank account. Fraudsters then send screenshots of profits, which they claim can be released for a fee.

After victims request to withdraw their funds, the fraudsters stop contact with the victim and close the Instagram account.

Action Fraud said that Instagram users should never send money to an account they have been contacted by over social media. Users should also be wary about agreeing to any scheme involving advanced payment or that asks you to sign a contract on the spot.

Action Fraud also recommends checking with the UK regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, to confirm that the person or company you’re dealing with is registered.

If you think you have been a victim, contact Action Fraud,” Carroll said.

You can contact Action Fraud online or by calling 0300 123 2040.