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Instagram users lose more than £350,000 to money flipping scams

Written by: Emma Lunn
Action Fraud received 164 reports from users of the photo-sharing app who had fallen victim to fraudulent investment schemes in June alone.

In total, the victims lost £358,809 to fraudsters promising big returns for little effort. This equates to an average of £2,187 per person.

In the scams, victims were approached via Instagram’s instant messaging system by fraudsters advertising their services.

Typically the scammers would ask for an initial investment of a few hundred pounds which they said would be used to trade on the stock market or to buy and trade foreign currency.

The fraudsters claimed they could multiply the initial investment several times within a matter of days this way, with the cash then returned to the investor after a small commission was deducted for the service.

But, in reality, once the initial investment had been transferred, the victim was given a series of excuses as to why their money and ‘profits’ couldn’t be returned unless more money was sent.

Eventually all contact would be severed and the victim blocked by the suspect.

Victims were usually requested to send the money by bank transfer or through a cryptocurrency platform which means it is nearly impossible to retrieve.

Whilst individual financial losses from this fraud are relatively small compare to other types of fraudulent investment schemes, this fraud targets a younger demographic. Victims are typically aged between 20 and 30, with many financially vulnerable and searching for a quick and easy way to make money.

How to spot the signs of a money scam

  • Unsolicited offers

A common tactic used by criminals is to promote ‘investment’ opportunities via social media accounts, promising large returns from a small up-front payment.

Never respond to any requests to send money, or have money transferred through your account, by someone you don’t know and trust.

  • Investment opportunities

Don’t be rushed into making an investment. Legitimate organisations will never pressure you into making a transaction on the spot.

  • Seek advice first

Speak with a trusted friend or family members, and seek independent professional advice before making significant financial decisions.

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