Fraud Watch: Social media scams

Posted at 8:19 AM, Jun 01, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-01 10:19:28-04

HELENA – Many of us keep up with friends and family through social media.

Websites like Facebook and Twitter are only growing in popularity, but fraud experts are warning that scammers can use those sites to gain your trust and take your money.

Marcus Meyer, an investigator with Montana Office of Consumer Protection, said social media scams have picked up in the past couple years.

This time, scammers are putting a new twist on old tricks. Instead of calling on the phone, fraudsters use indirect communication through Facebook and other social media platforms to gain trust and eventually ask for money.

Meyer said some of the scams that now happen online include the IRS scam, grandparents scam, lottery scam and others. Unwitting victims can end up handing over money through some sort of secured payment method such as a prepaid debit card or wire transfer.

Fraudsters may even pose as a recognizable figure like a celebrity or government official.

Most recently, OCP said someone was using the name and picture of Montana Attorney General Tim Fox. The person offered fake government grants, telling victims they just needed to pay the associated taxes and fees upfront.

Meyer said denying requests from people you don’t know and not giving out personal information online is the best way to protect yourself before its too late.

“Once the money has been sent or the personal information is out there, it’s very hard to recover from that,” Meyer said.

If you think you’ve fallen victim to any type of online scam, OCP said to contact them or your local law enforcement.