The United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported that its documented complaints of consumer fraud related to social media were growing at unprecedented levels. Consumers lost $ 117 million in the first six months of 2020 compared to $ 134 million in 2019.
The FTC describes the Facebook ad scam trend as exploding.
Fraud at a remarkable rate
Facebook and Instagram ads used by scammers
Facebook and Instagram advertising is being misused by criminals to scam users out of millions of dollars in 2020. Online purchases related to Facebook advertising are cited by almost 100% of consumers who say they have placed an order and never received their items.
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What happens is that scammers place ads on Facebook with no intention of delivering products.
The FTC highlighted the danger of online shopping through Facebook ads by stating that the main consumer complaints about fraud are online shopping through Facebook and Instagram ads.
According to the FTC
“Shopping online was high on the list of complaints from consumers who reported a social media scam to the FTC.
Many of these consumers responded to an ad they saw on social media and reported that the item they ordered never arrived.
Most consumers (94 percent) who identified the social media service in their complaint said Facebook or Instagram was the platform they used. “
The FTC specifically cited Facebook and Instagram advertising as a source of ad-related fraud.
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The government guard said criminals are abusing advertising features to make their ads look more trustworthy.
“These scam ads look real and can be carefully selected to target a specific audience. The scammers can delete comments on their ads or posts so that no negative responses are shown and people are made aware of the scam. “
But it’s not just shopping ads that criminals use. Romantic rip-offs are also reported, which add up to millions of dollars lost.
The FTC warns:
“About half of all romance scam reports to the FTC since 2019 involve social media, usually on Facebook or Instagram.”
Romance-related scams start with a message or a friend request, according to the FTC. The FTC encourages the public not to send money to a love interest they haven’t met.
Types of Scams Found on Facebook Ads
- Shopping online
- Romantic scams
- Fraud with economic facilities
- Fraud with Income Opportunities
- Multilevel Marketing MLM
- Pyramid schemes
- Blessing circles / gift schemes
Facebook scammers using identity theft schemes
Another way that scammers take advantage of users is by impersonating a Facebook member or taking an account directly. Scammers take advantage of the fact that Facebook users trust messages from someone they know and trust.
Finance related scams
The FTC said the pandemic opened up the possibility for scammers to use Facebook ads to reach economically disadvantaged consumers and scam millions of dollars.
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Lots of people are looking for ways to make more money. Scammers use them with pyramid and MLM schemes.
Facebook ad scams create a bad impression
Scammers using Facebook ads are bad for consumers and legitimate advertisers. Millions of dollars have been lost and the victims will tell a friend about their experience.
The success of advertising depends on trust. Anything that undermines trust in Facebook advertising can’t be good for the advertising ecosystem.
Read the official FTC report:
Fraud starting on social media will multiply in early 2020