A study ranks the 10 apps where people are being scammed the most in 2021 and Facebook came in at No. 1.
A record $4.2 billion was lost to online scams in 2020 and Arizona is the No.16 most-scammed state with victims losing 72 million.
Scammers have grown more sophisticated attacking people where they least expect it.
The top 10 consists of two social media platforms, two messenger services, one popular online game and five dating apps.
A poll of 726 online scam victims from 2021 was conducted as part of the study to find out where most scams are taking place.
The top 10 apps were led by Facebook with 152 victims, Google Hangouts with 99 victims, Instagram with 80, WhatsApp and Plenty of Fish had 50 each. Match, OurTime, Zoosk, Words With Friends and Tinder round out the top 10.
5 Most-Scammed Apps of 2021, Top Scams to Avoid on Each:
1. Facebook, Account Cloning: Scammers use the photos and information on your public profile to create a replica account. They ask your friends and family for money and send them malicious links that if clicked can steal their personal and financial information leading to identity theft and financial ruin.
How to Avoid: Search for yourself regularly on the app and in search engines. If you become aware of a clone account, warn your friends and family, and report it Facebook’s support center immediately.
2. Google Hangouts, Romance Scam: Romance scammers meet victims on dating apps but to avoid being kicked off those apps, they move the conversation to Google Hangouts. They fall in love with you quickly, gain your trust and begin asking for money and personal information until you have nothing left.
How to Avoid: If a suitor on a dating app wants to switch platforms be on alert and never send them money unless you have met them in person.
3. Instagram, Fake Brand Giveaways: Scammers pretend to be a respected brand offering free product giveaways. You sign up and give personal information but never receive a product and wind up with an empty bank account instead.
How to Avoid: Research and make sure it is the brand’s official Instagram account before participating.
4. WhatsApp, Hijack Scam: If you receive a six digital verification code without requesting one be on alert. Scammers, who already hijacked your friends account, send you the code and says they need it to get back into their account. You unwittingly send them the code, allowing them to hijack your account. Then they ask your contacts for money and replicate the scam by pretending to be you and asking others for the code.
How to Avoid: WhatsApp will never send you a code for someone else. If one of your contacts inquires about a code, it is a scam, and you should alert them off the app.
5. Plenty of Fish, Romance Scam: Scammers lurk on this dating app, using photos of good-looking models to lure victims in. They claim to work overseas or be in the military to explain why they cannot meet in person, and they leave victims with an empty bank account and a broken heart.
How to Avoid: Never send money to anyone you have never met in-person. If the person will not video chat, they are a scammer.