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This 27-Year-Old Finance Pro Lost $3,000 To an Instagram Scam — Here are The Four Red Flags That He Missed

Andrew claims he recognized he had been duped at this time. He reported the event to the police, then opened up his side hustle’s Instagram account and began posting warnings about his personal account and the account of the so-called advisor. He still doesn’t have access to his own Instagram account, which was recently sharing modified videos that appeared to show Andrew encouraging the con artist.

April 19, 2022
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Last month, a 27-year-old financial consultant, Andrew, learned this lesson the hard way when he was duped out of $3,000 on Instagram by someone posing as an investment advisor. According to cybersecurity experts, Andrew – who requested that his last name be omitted to preserve his job integrity – is far from alone. According to the FTC, more than 95,000 people lost $770 million in scams or hacks on social media sites in 2021. Scams on social media can take many forms, including forming friendships or romantic relationships, posting fake product adverts, and breaching your account. Andrew, a 27-year-old, was duped by someone posing as an investment advisor on Instagram. Andrew was fortunate that he was able to retrieve his $3,000, but there are steps you should take.

1. It appears to be too good to be real

If the opportunity or the investment scheme seems too good to be real, that’s one of the first signs that you’re being scammed. For example, Andrew saw a video on Instagram from a buddy claiming that he received a significant return of $40,000 on a $3,000 cash investment in less than 24 hours after working with an investor. If you notice a buddy making odd or unrealistic investments, it’s worth calling them to determine if their account is being hacked. 

It all started when Andrew viewed a video on Instagram from a friend. In the video, the friend claimed that dealing with an investment advisor had resulted in a big return on a $3,000 cash investment in less than 24 hours. The advisor was named in the article, and screenshots purporting to demonstrate how his investment had swiftly increased to $40,000 were included.  Andrew was wary but fascinated because he and his friend were both interested in the stock market and Bitcoin. So he sent a direct message to his friend to learn more, and he got a personal endorsement of the method very immediately.

His colleague suddenly talking about what they’re doing and how much money they’re making is the first red sign. Who has time to talk about their wealth if they’re producing money? It’s like when your friends’ social media accounts are hacked, and they start posting things like, “I dropped this much weight in seven days.” Even if it matches your friend’s professional experience, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If you think someone else is in charge of their account, pick up the phone and call that person directly. If you don’t have their phone number, send them a message requesting a “one-of-a-kind or special” detail. My favorite NASCAR driver is. Which college sports team is your favorite? Fraudsters have been known to leave accounts as a result of these queries.

2. A consistent communication

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Another red flag of fraud is if the person who contacts you tries to have a continuous back-and-forth dialogue with you. Andrew was allegedly not immediately sold on the concept, but he did call out to the “investor” mentioned in his friend’s post on Instagram. According to Andrew, the advisor “inferred that there’s some kind of convertible [cryptocurrency world] that most people aren’t aware of.” Andrew began to believe the “investor” after they began a back-and-forth conversation. The two struck up a quick friendship. Andrew became increasingly convinced that the advisor was genuine the more crypto-related language he used. Another red signal should have been the advisor’s response time. If someone responds to your DMs on a regular basis, it’s less probable that it’s a real person. It’s more likely that it’s a canned response from a script.

3. A deadline

Following the establishment of a conversation, the scammer will frequently provide an ultimatum. The fraudster would only agree to release the funds if Andrew produced a video approving the investor’s approach after Andrew provided the “investor” access to his accounts.  Following the instructions, Andrew deposited $1,000 in a Zelle account and another $2,000 in bitcoin in Cash App. He supplied the advisor with the account information, and the advisor sent Andrew a link to what appeared to be a Forex (online foreign exchange market) site. Andrew’s $3,000 investment grew to well over $42,000 in less than five minutes. 

Andrew, who was beginning to feel nervous, stated that he was ready to payout. The advisor, who was now in charge of the accounts, agreed to release the monies if Andrew consented to produce a video approving the procedure. Andrew says he first resisted because “providing unsolicited financial advice while promising returns is against the CFP code of conduct.” However, the advisor told him that the film would only be seen by potential clients and would never be made public. The final red flag is that Andrew should have recognized the strategy based on his own personal experience, “since that’s how [Andrew] got drawn — a video posted by a friend.”

Group of diverse people having a business meeting

4. Odd connections

Finally, if the fraudster gives you uncommon links, you can know if you’re being duped. These URLs frequently fail to work after entering personal information, including grammatical errors, or lock you out of your account. Andrew sent the advisor a video with caveats noting he wasn’t promoting the advisor’s services. Instead of heading to Forex, the advisor sent Andrew a link to extract his winnings, which opened what seemed to be Instagram’s login page. The link took him to what looked like Instagram’s login page. Andrew entered his login and password and was locked out of his account nearly instantly. 

Andrew claims he recognized he had been duped at this time. He reported the event to the police, then opened up his side hustle’s Instagram account and began posting warnings about his personal account and the account of the so-called advisor. He still doesn’t have access to his own Instagram account, which was recently sharing modified videos that appeared to show Andrew encouraging the con artist. When contacted by CNBC Make It, a representative from Facebook, Instagram’s sibling company, stated that they would look into the matter further. “We’ve put in place sophisticated procedures to stop bad actors in their tracks before they get access to accounts, as well as steps to assist customers in recovering their accounts,” the spokesperson said. “We know we can do much more here, and we’re striving diligently in both of these areas to keep our community secure and stop bad actors before they cause harm.” 

In terms of the money, Andrew contacted his bank, which promptly halted the $1,000 Zelle transaction and instructed him to file a separate claim for the remaining $2,000 using Visa and Cash App. Andrew eventually received his money back. His credibility as a financial expert, however, was already in jeopardy at this point. He and his boss, he claims, contacted the CFP Board of Standards, which oversees all CFPs’ competency and ethical practices across various countries. He also contacted his employer’s IT staff to watch for any suspicious behavior because he was unsure how his Instagram username and private details may be linked to his company. Andrew’s career as a CFP is still going strong now. And, as far as he knows, the fraudster couldn’t access any of his other social media accounts or, more importantly, his bank accounts. Andrew “did everything right” to secure his personal information after the swindle. Here’s some advice for people seeking to avoid similar situations:

  1. Consider creating separate email accounts for your social networking, financial, and medical accounts. For an account containing very sensitive or secret information, use an encrypted service like ProtonMail. 
  2. Multi-factor authentication should be enabled for all of your accounts. Do not click any links if you receive a notification of suspicious activity on your account. Instead, log in to your profile and manually update your password
  3. Allow a friend or family member to access your account in an emergency. On the “privacy and settings” page of some social media platforms, you can assign a backup user. Instagram doesn’t have the feature yet, but a Facebook spokeswoman said that it is being tested.

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