By Mehab Qureshi
Twenty-five-year-old Preksha Kasbe, a student based in Pune, woke up to a DM (direct message) on Instagram from her friend Sonali who she knew from school. Excited, she responded to her message chatting about life in general as friends do. “But then Sonali switched the conversation to crypto investments and how it changed her life completely,” Kasbe said.
Intrigued by the investment advice, and the eagerness to earn quick money led Kasbe to enquire about the lucrative deal. “She (Sonali) said it is pretty simple. You just have to change your email address that is linked to your Instagram to an email address that she (Sonali) sent,” she recounted.
Things took a u-turn as soon as the email address was changed. Kasbe’s account was hacked and started posting fake screenshots on her profile on how she (Kasbe) became wealthy after getting investment advice from Anna (the alleged crypto scammer). The hacker even started posting her photos with fake bank account statements duping her followers to invest their money in a scam token. Upon calling Sonali, Kasbe understood that her friend’s account was also hacked. “This seems like a chain reaction of scams,” Kasbe added.
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Vivan D’Souza, 27, a Jaipur-based stock market trader had a different story to tell. Like Kasbe, he too received a message on Instagram, but from a self-proclaimed crypto trading expert, who asked him to invest in Binance, which is a popular crypto exchange.
“After several days of conversation, I made up my mind to invest in a new token listed on Binance but the catch was the link that the scammer sent was not of Binance, but of a fake crypto exchange that posed as Binance,” D’Souza said. He lost Rs 10,000 and never got any cryptos in his wallet.
Cryptocurrency scams on Instagram are a new rage. These come with the promise of free tokens or secret insider tips on how to get rich quick from Bitcoin or another altcoin. While many of these are just laughable attempts at getting your personal information to steal personal identity and data, some are more convincing than others. But one that stands out is the Bitcoin giveaway scam. The premise is simple: An account promises to give you a certain amount of Bitcoin if you send them a small amount as a fee to claim the ‘free’ cryptocurrency.
Scammers often use stolen photos to make their accounts look legitimate. Worryingly, while most legitimate exchanges and wallets don’t have a presence on Instagram, scammers have started creating fake accounts to trick people into falling for their schemes.
Unfortunately, there is no surefire way to avoid being scammed on Instagram. However, you can do a few things to increase your chances of avoiding a sketchy situation. First and foremost, be sure to double-check any posted information to ensure it’s legitimate.
“It’s important to remember that anyone can fall for an Instagram scam — even the most tech-savvy people fall for scams, and anyone can be scammed. In fact, the people who fall for scams the most often tend to be younger people who aren’t quite as savvy when it comes to spotting scams. Finally, don’t be afraid to report scammers and suspicious accounts on Instagram. You can do this by tapping the “three dots” icon on their posts or profile and choosing ‘Report’,” Sourajeet Majumber, a cyber security expert said.
Another thing to be wary of is fake accounts reposting actual posts made by legitimate businesses. A lot of these are made by bots who collect likes and comments from fake accounts. If you see an ad promoting an ICO, Bitcoin, or another cryptocurrency, don’t click on it. Most of these ads are made for the sole purpose of tricking you into handing over personal information, and clicking on them will only lead you to malicious sites that could steal your data.
In the end, though, the best way to avoid falling for a scam is to search for legitimate sources and verify the information you’re reading. When it comes to cryptocurrency, knowing how it works, how to invest in it, and how to keep your money safe is essential. Furthermore, sticking to verified news sources and publications — especially when it comes to investing in crypto — can help you avoid falling victim to a scam.
Crypto scammers are hijacking Instagram accounts
Do not change your e-mail account linked with Instagram
Scammers often use stolen photos to make their accounts look legitimate
Stay vigilant and always do your research