FTC: Social Media Scammers Stole $770 Million in 2021

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is applauded as he delivers the opening keynote introducing new Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram privacy features at the Facebook F8 Conference at McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, California on April 30, 2019. - Got a crush on another Facebook user? The social network will …

According to a recent report from the Federal Trade Commission, social media scammers had a record year for ripping off Americans, stealing approximately $770 million in 2021.

Engadget reports that according to a recent report from the FTC, more than 95,000 people lost approximately $770 million to online scammers in 2021.  The majority of those that lost money appeared to be contacted via social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. In 2020, it was estimated that scammers had stolen around $258 million, roughly one-third of the 2021 figure.

The FTC report does not provide any particular reason for the increase in online scamming in 2021, but it does note that reports of scams have “soared” in the last five years. One area of focus seems to be cryptocurrency, where the FTC claims there is a “massive surge” in scams related to “bogus cryptocurrency investments.” For example, the major Twitter hack in 2020 centered on compromising the accounts of famous people to push crypto scams.

Mark Zuckerberg Smiles during testimony (Pool/Getty)

Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal

Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal (Google Cloud/YouTube)

The FTC estimates that crypto scams account for around $285 million of the $770 million stolen last year. The FTC further alleges that “romance scams” have “climbed to record highs in recent years.” Romance scams are otherwise known as “catfishing” in which a scammer poses as an attractive man or woman in order to convince people to send them money.

The FTC stated: “These scams often start with a seemingly innocent friend request from a stranger, followed by sweet talk, and then, inevitably, a request for money.” Many other scams related to online shopping, the majority involved “undelivered goods” that were purchased via social media ads.

It appeared that Facebook and Instagram were the two biggest sources of social media scams in 2021. The FTC states in the reports that “more than a third of people who said they lost money to an online romance scam in 2021 said it began on Facebook or Instagram.”

A Facebook (now Meta) spokesperson said in a statement: “We put significant resources towards tackling this kind of fraud and abuse. We also go beyond suspending and deleting accounts, Pages, and ads. We take legal action against those responsible when we can and always encourage people to report this behavior when they see it.”

The FTC has recommended that users opt-out of targeted advertising when possible as scammers can “easily use the tools available to advertisers on social media platforms to systematically target people with bogus ads based on personal details such as their age, interests, or past purchases.” The FTC further recommended that users review and tighten their privacy settings and to watch out for messages asking for money.

Read more at Engadget here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address [email protected]


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