Instagram is not just about pretty pictures, food, and bodacious girls. Here they cheat in a big way. In this article, we will tell you what types of fraud in Instagram are divided into, how to recognize and punish the scammer and whether it is real to get the money back.
In writing the article helped the lawyer Tarakanov Dmitry Aleksandrovich.
What types of fraud are divided into in Instagram
To begin with, it is worthwhile to understand what fraud is. Let’s turn to the legislation.
The difference from theft: the victim voluntarily and deliberately transfers valuable information or money to the attacker.
Dmitry Tarakanov chairman of the board of lawyers “Defender”
“Fraud in Instagram is not fundamentally different from other types of scams.
There are always two indispensable elements: the seizure of property of the victim and deception (breach of trust).
In the article “How to protect yourself from Instagram scams?” the official help center of the social network conventionally identified 8 common types of scams:
- services with paid subscriptions;
- services with credit cards;
- services with a job search;
- services with investments;
- credit services;
- romantic dating;
- lottery services.
To this we can add 3 more:
- Mutnos (collecting money ostensibly for medicine or surgery for a sick relative);
- Fraud in Internet stores.
Now let’s talk about each of them in more detail.
This type of fraud is a form of sending fake notifications, with the help of which scammers try to gain access to your Instagram account.
Very often, phishers disguise themselves as a support service. For example, they send you a link to a form where you have to enter your personal
After entering the data, the scammers get access to your account.
2. Services with paid subscription
In this case, scammers offer to buy a subscription to a paid program at a reduced price or unlimited access to it.
The catch: the product won’t work as it should. The maximum you can get is a cracked and pirated version, but more often than not even that won’t happen.
3. Credit card scams
For example, cybercriminals can offer coronavirus medication or extra payments from the government due to quarantine in order to gain access to your confidential card details. They are interested in the last 4 digits of the card number and CVV.
4. Job search scams
Instagram scammers post tempting jobs that mislead job seekers. See the table below for more details.
Seen a similar vacancy – do not pay fees, do not click on suspicious links.
5. Investment scams
You will be offered to participate in a suspicious scheme for a nominal fee (e.g., financial pyramids). After the transfer, the scammers usually disappear immediately, but sometimes the pyramid collapses after some time. You won’t see any profit in any of these schemes.
For example, in one story, a subscriber trusted the promises of a blogger, but did not calculate the possible risks and did not check the user on the black lists of scammers in thematic groups of Instagram and other social networks.
6. Loan fraud.
Instant loans without documents at a low interest rate for a small advance. After transferring the money, the scammers disappear.
7. Lottery services and dishonest raffles
There may be several variants here.
For example, you receive a direct message on behalf of well-known organizations (state structures) about winning the lottery for a small advance or information about a bank card, a real address. You won’t get a win – you only lose money.
Another variant is drawings from fake pages. Scammers advertise paid surveys on Instagram on behalf of fake celebrity accounts.
Scammers create a fake celebrity account (for credibility) and offer a prank or a paid survey on its behalf.
When you click on the link you get to the site with the survey. The feedback there is usually positive and neutral-positive.
The user fills out the survey and supposedly wins a large sum.
The catch is in the fixing payment of 155 rubles. The victim remits the money, but there is no prize.
Moreover, the offer states that the organizers are not responsible for this draw. Fraudsters added Sberbank to the list of paid surveys, which does not comment on the situation.
Pavel Durov is struggling with fraudulent shenanigans on his behalf. His complaint to Instagram about fraud has not changed the situation. This is what Pavel said in his Telegram channel.
8. Romantic dating
The scammer starts an online relationship with the victim and gains her trust. Then he asks for money under any pretext and disappears.
Such a scammer is usually called a dating scammer. Dating scammers use a variety of ways to seduce the victim:
- Complaint stories. The invalid, the soldier, the widower, the poor student, the rich man, the victim of mercenary women – his images.
- Ideal Image. Career, family, prosperous country, high salary. The interlocutor prefers to talk about himself and has little interest in the beloved.
- Fast declarations of love. Usually after 1-7 days of acquaintance.
- An abundance of compliments. Long romantic letters, beautiful promises.
The heroine shared her story in the screenshots below.
This is a special kind of fraud on Instagram. Someone wants to know the future, someone wants to punish the offender through magic.
The victim of the fortune-teller wanted to read a fortune on marriage. She was imposed unnecessary services, unrelated to her order.
Then the fortuneteller refused to return the money and added her to her black list.
Molodkin Vladimir specialist-expert of the FSSP
“According to statistics, in the sphere of providing “magical” services, including various kinds of predictions, today involved about 800 thousand people, and this is only a rough estimate. It goes without saying that such a specific sphere of activity in the absence of clear legislative regulation opens a wide field for fraudulent actions.
Recall that back in 2017 a bill was submitted to the State Duma on punishment for illegal practicing magic, but the document has not yet been adopted. Therefore, the chances of bringing a fraudulent fortune-teller to criminal liability is almost zero.
<…> although there are other precedents. For example, a professional fortuneteller was sentenced to prison by the Petrozavodsk city court for receiving compensation from her clients. The court classified the actions of the defendant as fraud.
A certain Tatiana Moroz, who introduced herself as “the fortuneteller Tatiana”, intimidated people with “predictions” of all kinds of misfortunes that supposedly awaited them in the future, and convinced them that they could avoid trouble if they purchased “talismans” and “amulets” and then underwent a “purification ceremony”, for which it was required to pay from a thousand to several dozen thousand rubles.
We can only hope that the precedent set by the Petrozavodsk court will be able to change the law enforcement practice regarding such crimes.
Mutnosborn (aka toxic collection or mutnosbor) is when parents collect money for the treatment of a child, but spend the funds received on themselves. Or scammers pretend to be relatives of a sick person and accept donations.
Instagram scammers make money from charity and people who care. They create a fake page with stolen photos, diagnoses and personal details.
There are no treatment reports in such groups, and the money goes nowhere.
11. Instagram scams
Instagram is a platform that is great for trading. But not all online stores should be trusted.
For example, scammers can create a fake store account with photos of non-existent products. They quickly gain a large number of subscribers using mass-following tools, get likes and comments. Victims place an order, pay for it, and get nothing.
The heroine of the forum became a victim of such a scheme. The store after full prepayment blocked her in direct.
Fraudsters in Instagram, selling clothes, shoes, knives, children’s products, accessories, are not only aware of trends, but also of naive people.
The victim of the following story bought into the pretty pictures, customer reviews, and polite communication. The fashion vendors didn’t act like scammers – they gave a discount, didn’t block immediately after payment, had a dialogue. And then stopped responding.
It often happens that the product is sent to you, but not the right one. You buy an expensive thing, but you get a cheap Chinese knockoff.
Cheating can also pay for services. For example, remote specialists show you someone else’s cases and fake reviews, and entice you with low prices and discounts. And after full prepayment, they disappear.
We’ve figured out the main types of fraud. Now let’s understand what signs are used to identify them.
How to spot a scammer on Instagram
And the Instagram help center has an article on this too, called “How to protect yourself from Instagram scams?”
But that’s general advice. Now let’s look at the specifics of some specific types.
Fake charity accounts can be figured out by the following traits:
- A picture of a sick person. Look it up and check it on a search engine. If the details in Instagram and the search engine do not match – in front of you a scammer who did not bother to change anything.
- The cost of medication. Real foundations do not collect money for some medicines, because then they would have to decide who gets treatment.
- Verification of Credentials. Real charities collect money on a legal entity’s card.
Let’s imagine that a friend suddenly wrote to you in directing and asked for money for treatment, surgery. Let’s figure out how to recognize scammers in Instagram and not to offend the person with a real problem:
- Think about whether you are close enough for him to contact you;
- Call or write in another messenger, if possible, and clarify whether he really needs help;
- Ask a follow-up question that your friend knows the answer to for sure (place of acquaintance, name of class teacher, and so on);
- Make a video call.
- Look through the blacklist of scammers
Let’s break down where to look for scam lists.
In a search engine. Type in the name of the specialist or the name of the firm and see if there are reviews. This is the easiest way, but you can’t rely on it alone. Scammers may have created a new profile or renamed the old one.
In thematic publishers. We made a special table for you, in which we collected a list of groups in social networks with accounts of scammers in Instagram.
Check whether the new fan is a scammer
If they are actively trying to get acquainted with you in direct, do not lose vigilance from compliments – check it in the blacklists of suitors in the thematic groups of scammers.
Now let’s figure out how to check the scammer in Instagram, if he is not in these lists:
- Check the text of his message through any anti-plagiarism. Scammers can take a ready-made template of an email that has already gone viral somewhere.
- Verify the authenticity of the photo of the interlocutor. Any search engine will work for this: upload it to Google or Yandex, and see if the same image has been used in another account. If there is no photo, ask for one. Rejection or excuses are a wake-up call.
Even if the photo is real, and the emails haven’t flashed anywhere – don’t relax. A marriage scammer will give away details. Observe and analyze.
How does a typical scammer behave?
- Avoids meeting in person or video chatting. Finds valid reasons, excuses. He is not shy – he doesn’t want to show his face.
- Distracts from real life. His letters come at night, during the holiday, and you have to answer them urgently, otherwise you’re offended.
- He asks for money. Suddenly he is in trouble: an illness of a relative, an arrest, an injury. Sometimes the scammer asks to participate in dubious transactions, to help with business, to take a loan. A scammer might, for example, really want to come to you and ask you to pay him a ticket on credit.
- He doesn’t address you by name. He calls you generic affectionate words (honey, pretty), so as not to confuse the victims.
- Manipulates and instills guilt. He talks about trust, he can send screenshots of his fake IDs. Punishes the victim for disobedience: disappears for 2-3 days, and then appears.
- He blackmails and threatens. First, the suitor asks for intimate photos or videos, and then uses them or promises to use them against you if you don’t follow his orders.
Pay attention to the criteria for choosing an online store on Instagram
A special memo on calculating Internet fraud has been published on the website of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. If you highlight the main thing, it turns out the following:
- If you find a cheap product, think about why it has such a price. It may be due to damaged packaging or factory defect.
- Find out what guarantees the seller can provide.
- Read the reviews of other customers.
- Check the seller’s credentials.
- Never send money to an electronic purse, or to a cell phone account.
What else should you look at?
- The blue check mark. It shows that the account has been checked by Instagram administrators.
For example, let’s enter “zara” in the social network search. The account with the blue check mark belongs to the official representative. The rest of the accounts are resellers or fakes.
- Audience. Analyze the ratio between the number of subscribers and the number of likes and comments under publications. If the difference between them is too big (20 likes or 1 comment per 10 000 subscribers) – refrain from buying.
- Personal information in the account. Examine the seller’s profile: see registration date, location, total subscribers and previous usernames.
The last function is needed to track the dynamics of account renaming.Let’s see how it looks like in practice.For our analysis, we have taken a test account, which has not had time to show up in the thematic groups.
Click on the three vertical dots in the lower right corner and select the option “Account Info”. Then look at “Previous usernames.” We see that the account has been renamed 18 times.
Click on this option and look at the dates and past names. It is not forbidden to rename an account, but renaming too often is suspicious. In a particular account, the change happened three times in one day. It’s your choice whether to take the risk or not.
Important: The “Account info” section does not work for everyone, but only for those whose profiles are of interest to potential advertisers.
- Uninformative comments. Reviews and comments in Instagram can be ordered. For example, if in the comments there is no objective assessment (plausible details or mentions of durability and convenience), but only emoticons and monotonous praise, not the fact that the review is real.
- Photos. It’s the details that give a con artist away. If the photo of the product has already been used somewhere, and this model you have already seen somewhere, there is clearly something wrong.
Let’s check for an experiment an account that has popped up in one of the thematic groups.
We upload the first photo to the search engine and get a similar photo in another store.
This is a reason to be wary or to ask for individual photos of the dress.
- Content. In a trustworthy seller’s profile there are a lot of meaningful posts with explanations, tips, ideas, product unpacking videos. A fraudulent profile has a lot of water, aggressive appeals to buy, copied product specifications.
- Refusal of self-delivery or payment by cash on delivery. For example, there is a picabush post about how another scammers selling masks to quarantine almost deceived a customer. The customer wanted to order a courier delivery to be sure of the quality of the product. He was even willing to drive up to the store in person, but the scammers came up with endless excuses.
If the seller refuses the request for pickup or cash on delivery and makes a rush to buy – this is suspicious.
- Urgency. They will write to you that the last model left at the promotional price, and only for you they are ready to set it aside at half price, 10% of the price.
- Low price. Can not branded things cost two times less, even on the stock.
However, alas, it happens that all these recommendations are no longer relevant, because you have already encountered a cheater and fell for his deception. What to do?
How to deal with unscrupulous bloggers
You can act in different ways: through the support service, the police, and special services. The main thing is not to give up.
Let’s look at a few typical situations and ways of solving them.
What to do if a blogger offers to participate in a suspicious survey
Bloggers are opinion leaders. But it often happens that they do not live up to their trust. For example, they:
- recommend a fraudulent service (financial pyramid scheme);
- do not fulfill the conditions of givaway for subscribers;
- do not bring the promised number of subscribers to the sponsor;
- provide service of inadequate quality (unstructured or obscure course information, rudeness);
- take goods by barter (for a review) and do not advertise it.
In a strict sense, not all of this is fraud, but it is worth knowing what to do in any case
Influencer openly recommended a paid survey (already described above what the point is) and claimed the scheme worked. Her ads were paid for by scammers on Instagram. How to get the money back to the victims, the blogger is not interested.
What to do in such a situation? Apply to the police with a statement. Specify in it, from which source of information you learned about this survey. After the investigation, the blogger will appear in the case as an accomplice to fraud. Deception of subscribers in Instagram is punishable.
What to do if an instablogger conducts a givaway dishonestly
For subscribers, the signs of a normal giveaway are:
- openness of the contest (contest conditions are detailed and prizes are known);
- adequate sponsors (no shamans, no fortune-tellers, no virtual casinos).
Dmitry Tarakanov Chairman of the Bar “Defender”
“The question of whether it is fraudulent to refuse to transfer the won prize is decided depending on whether you transferred any money to the organizers. For example, you may have bought a lottery ticket. If you didn’t invest any money, but only performed some actions online (subscribing, watching videos), then such actions are not fraudulent from the point of view of the law”.
Please note: during the wave of draws during a gif, cheaters often direct messages offering to buy a winner’s place. Do not be fooled.
But advertisers can also get into an unpleasant situation. For example, it happens that the blogger does not fulfill the conditions or brings in bots.
Dmitry Tarakanov chairman of the board of lawyers “Defender”
“If a blogger has done his job, but you are not satisfied with the result, then we cannot talk about fraud on his part, because the main sign of the crime – deception – is missing. And the behavior of the audience depends not only on the blogger, but also on other factors, including the actions of the customer.”
By the way, we have instructions on how to find bloggers to advertise on Instagram. Be careful not to drain your budget.
What to do in this situation? There is still a chance to solve everything in the legal order, although small.
You can file a statement of claim in court for unjust enrichment.
In the claim to specify:
- The amount paid by the blogger;
- Interest for the use of other people’s money.
How to file a complaint with the police
You already know that you can file a complaint with the police in your situation. What information is needed for this?
Dmitry Tarakanov Chairman of the Bar “Defender”
“In a statement, you need to detail how everything happened: tell how you found the page, with whom you communicated, write the dates, time, describe the details of correspondence and indicate where and when you transferred the money. The application must be accompanied by all available documents (screenshot of correspondence, money transfer receipts or online checks. Do not forget to bring your passport. The address of registration (propiska) in this case does not matter. Accept the application must be accepted in any police station.
Samples of applications to the police
If you do not know how to make a claim, you can rely on the samples of statements to the cyber police from the account @moshennichestvo_help and write on their basis.
Ways to file a report
You don’t have to go to the office. You can apply online.
You can do it in three ways:
Dmitry Tarakanov chairman of the board of lawyers “Protector”
“You can file a crime report in any convenient way, including through the application form on the police website, but it is better, of course, to file a report in person. It will take more of your time, but also the speed of police response will be significantly faster.”
After reporting to the police, call the hotline at your bank and the bank of the fraudster. They will explain over the phone what you need to do next. As a rule, you will need to come to the bank branch, write a statement and attach screenshots-proofs.
How to complain about the account of a fraudster in Instagram
It’s important to understand that the Instagram service is not in the business of refunds. But they can block the account of the abuser.
Let’s look at the ways available:
- Write to the tech support email [email protected] In a letter specify the name of your account and the problem, upload screenshots-proofs.
- Contact the technical support from your account via the Instagram interface.
- Complain to the user manually.
Select “Report a Problem.
In the window that appears, describe the situation and present the evidence.
Next, all you have to do is submit and wait for your request to be reviewed.
Submit a complaint about the account
- Find the three vertical dots in the bottom right corner of the scammer’s profile and select the “Complain” line in the drop-down box.
- Then click on “This is inappropriate content.”
- Next, select “Complain about the account.”
- The next step is “Posting content that doesn’t belong on Instagram.”
- Among the list of violations, choose “Fraud or Deception.”
- Then a window will appear thanking you for your complaint.
Moderators will review the complaint and block the account if your evidence was convincing. Sometimes one complaint is enough.
If Instagram technical support did not respond to your letters, fill out the form on the site Emdigital.ru. There you can complain about any account and ask the community of concerned people to throw in complaints and block the account.
Now step by step.
- Choose “Add an account to the blacklist.
- Fill in the form.
- Next you just wait for the appeal to be considered.
How to get back the money stolen by fraudsters
To try to do something or not – it is up to you to decide. You can complain about fraud in Instagram to the police or forget about the unpleasant situation. But it is worth remembering that if you do nothing, surely someone else will be cheated.
Dmitry Tarakanov chairman of the board of lawyers “Protector”
“The question of whether to go to the police or not, everyone decides for himself. You have to understand that going to the police is always time: to draw up a statement, to file a complaint, to appear to the investigator, to participate in court. Therefore, I recommend each time to correlate the resources spent and the results obtained. If the amount is not large for you, you can consider that you have paid the tutor for the lesson. If we are talking about a significant amount, of course, you need to contact the police. Even if they don’t find the culprits right away, there’s always a chance they’ll get caught on another case and bring up yours.”
If the freelancer disappeared after the prepayment, but does not block in messengers – try to have a dialogue. Promise that you will tell about him in all social networks and thematic groups of his city. If he cares about his reputation, there is a chance that he will return the money.
Dmitry Tarakanov chairman of the board of lawyers “Protector”
“The question of the timing of the return of the money is complicated and does not have an unambiguous answer. It all depends on how many other victims in the case, besides you, how many fraudsters are in the group. A criminal investigation can last a month or it can take several years. Court hearings can also take one day, or they can take years. The scammer can make restitution himself before or during the trial. This is very often the case, as restitution in fraud cases seriously affects the amount of punishment. But they may not make restitution voluntarily. Then the damages will be recovered by the court, and the judgment will be enforced in accordance with the Law “On Enforcement Proceedings.”
We found out what tricks con artists go to in order to fool you: fake accounts, hoaxes, marriage scams. Even popular bloggers aren’t always honest with subscribers and clients.
Analyze the user’s profile and don’t be in a hurry to transfer money. Don’t be fooled by manipulations, huge discounts, the number of subscribers and positive feedback.
If the scammers managed to cheat – contact the police and Instagram tech support.
You will get your money back if they catch the culprit.
Be careful and don’t let anyone cheat you!