Scammer Season: U.S. Consumers Lost Over $930 Million On Social Media

By Ariel Solomon

  • U.S. consumers lost over $930M to social media scams in 2022
  • Social media usage amongst Black adults remains higher than other other ethnic demographics across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at 74%, 49% and 29% respectively, and they may face higher exposure to these platform scams as a result

If you’ve made it this far into 2023, you or someone you know has likely been a victim of, or has been privy to, a social media scam. As we continue to explore the depths of our love-hate relationship with social media, usage amongst Black adults remains higher than other ethnic demographics across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at 74%, 49% and 29% respectively, per a Pew Research study. Reasons like this have led a majority of cybercriminals to go after this channel, causing Americans to lose over $931 million to social media scams in the first three quarters of 2022 alone.

Why This Matters: With $3.4 Million going to social media scams daily and seven in 10 Americans using these platforms, occasional online browsing can have serious financial consequences. Fake charities and gift exchange programs are common scams which prey on the innocent. Other prevalent social media scams include “The Legitimate Business Con”, “The Romance Scam”, and “The Social Media Takeover,” according to Forbes. 

The first represents the practice of illegitimate online businesses marketing to users and requesting direct payments at seemingly discounted rates, often leading to no actual delivery of product or service. The Romance Scam, is when a person preys on the emotions of another and requests funds once camaraderie and trust have been gained. Lastly, a Social Media Takeover involves one taking over the social media profile of another and exploiting the victim’s network for funds. This happens under the guise that the victim is truly in need. As Black and Hispanic individuals are using social media at higher rates than their white peers, they may suffer greater exposure to these risks.

Situational Awareness: While one might decide to close the tab on a social media site, he or she is still susceptible to scams while on their PC/and or phones, as websites and apps were the second most profitable channels for cybercriminals in 2022, raking in a whopping $692 million. Phone calls and texts weren’t too far behind at $590 million and $231 million respectively. In the year ahead, it’ll be critical to remain extra conscious of online stores and requests for funds, particularly around major holidays, as scammers continuously refine the sophistication of their methods. 

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