Fraudsters are everywhere. In real life and most especially on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, Instagram, Google, Email Messengers and so on), stripping people of their hard earned resources and causing them so much heartbreak along.
How do you identify one when you meet him on social media and avoid all the unnecessary pains and stress that comes along with their fraudulent activities? Find out in this post.
What is social media fraud?
Online or social media fraud goes by many names in different places and among different folks.
In many parts of Nigeria for instance, it is popularly known as “Yahoo Yahoo”, “Maga-way”, “Mugu-pay” etc.
It is an illegal activity in which a fellow (a fraudster, also called a Yahooboy) uses deceitful methods to extort money or other valuable resources from an individual or group of people. The victims are commonly referred to as Maga, Mugu and several other derogatory names.
With the rise in internet activities especially social media, also comes the rise of these individuals whose sole target is to scam people of their hard earned resources.
Let me briefly show you the most common ways fraudsters operate on different social media platforms and how to deal with them.
How Fraudsters Operate On Social Networks
While chatting on different social media platforms and browsing through the internet, taking cognisance of these characteristics of fraudsters or scammers will help you avoid falling a victim to their numerous deceitful strategies.
1. Religious Strategy
This is certainly one of the biggest ways fraudsters operate on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp and others.
Have you ever accepted a Friend Request from someone on Facebook and the next minute the “friend” starts bombarding your inbox with lots and lots of prayers – especially goodwill prayers, without exchanging any form of pleasantries or even getting to know who you are well?
That is one major way social media fraudsters operate. They often start with prayers until they are able to get into your heart and then the real scamming follows.
Apart from this “prayers of blessings” method, they also open individual account and pages using the names and photos of popular religious leaders in the country and start querying you about your spiritual life.
If you ever complain of facing any form of challenges in any area of your life, they will quickly give you solutions that will definitely tie to you giving them money either directly or through “someone in need of help God said you must give money to.”
Many have fallen for this. Do not be among them.
When someone sends you a Friend Request on Facebook, go through his Timeline and find out how many meaningful posts and photos he has on his profile.
If it is just two or three posts or pictures of different people or same people with different “photoshopped” backgrounds, chances are he or she is a scammer, a fraudster and a social media religious thief.
2. Dating Strategy
Women who are desperate for a relationship or to have someone to love them, are often the easiest victims of fraudsters that employ the dating strategy.
Identifying these scammers are a little bit tougher than the first as they often come like people who are genuinely interested in having a serious relationship with you. However, they have their characteristics as well.
These set of fraudsters often focus only on your physical appearance, they try as much as they can to flatter you with words that are often a shallow expression of who you really are.
After winning your heart, the next thing is to devise ways to get you send them some money with the promise of either marrying or doing something else for you.
3. Business Strategy
These set of social media fraudsters often announce on their posts and tweets they have a highly profitable business they are starting or have started already and wants to give the opportunity for people to partner with them and make money.
The commonest way they do this is through direct messages on Twitter, Facebook or Email.
They often do not have a registered business name or product with Coperate Affairs Commission (CAC). No website or blog where you can get more information from and most times no physical location.
Some even go to the length of arranging a fake physical location to dupe the innocent ones but give them time and you will discover the location they gave you are not really theirs.
Before accepting a business deal that will require you making transactions, ensure you have made a proper research concerning the business.
Ask people around for the genuineness of whatever company they claim to represent. Google and visit the company websites and if possible verify the company registration with CAC. It may seem like a lot of work but it is worth it.
4. NGO/Begging Strategy
These set of online fraudsters are very easy to come by. They often come to you on social networks parading themselves to be representatives of NGOs that are out to take care of the poor, the aged, orphans or even motherless babies.
They mostly use images of black African children looking so poor, dirty and dying of hunger. Images of sick or people in need you can hardly ignore.
Of course, not everyone who says they are representatives of NGOs are fake. Some are genuine. Very genuine. However, scarce to come by.
To avoid falling a victim to these fraudsters, make sure you don’t get overwhelmed with emotions of pity when you see such images and act from your heart while ignoring your head.
A wise man once said, “follow your heart. But take your head along.” I agree.
Do not just jump into any wagon of “needy starving children” only to discover you have been scammed by fraudsters.
Get all the necessary information you can about any group or NGO you meet on social media and help when you know they truly exist and are really doing what they claim to be doing.
5. Gift Strategy
These ones often come to your inbox claiming to have something they want to give you. I have encountered them before and almost fell for their lies.
They claim to have been watching you for some time and discovered you are a very nice person so they will like to either assist you with some chunk of money or give you to keep for them due to one reason or the other they can’t keep the money with themselves.
Before you know what is really happening, they have extorted from vital information from you that they can even use to milk you dry and at the same time even put you in trouble with the Law.
Ensure you are not easily carried away when you hear about such “free” money. Do not let them stir up greed in you and then later use it against you.
Why will anyone be willing to throw around money and gifts just because they like you? Even the Federal government doesn’t do that.
Shine your eyes very well and be grateful for what you already have. No matter how small.
6. Tourist Strategy
Fraudsters using this strategy often send you a mail after you have accepted their friend request on Facebook claiming to be coming to your country in few weeks or days and would like to meet you so you can show them around.
The message is often in this format:
Greetings from London dear….
I intend to visit your country next month for tourism.
Let’s keep in touch through mails for more explanation, due to the busy schedule of my work my presence on Facebook is limited.
Please contact me so so and so email,
If you have ever come across such people on any social media – especially Facebook, don’t get carried away with their tourism message, it is all scam. Techniques social media Fraudsters use to dupe people.
Dealing With Social Media Fraudsters
There are several ways you can deal with someone you have noticed to be a fraudster on social media. Some of these ways includes:
1. Report The Account To Site Admins
Most people do not even know they can report fraudulent accounts to admins of several social networks.
When you discover any unusual behaviour in a person’s individual account or page that seems like scam, quickly report that account or page to the social media admins and don’t feel guilty about it. You may saving someone somewhere from their attacks.
After you have reported such accounts, the admins of the site go into work and verify things for themselves. If your suspicion is true, the account will be blocked or deleted from the social media completely.
2. Report The Account To The Police
There is a department in Police that regularly handle online related crimes. In Nigeria for instance, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) takes great pleasure in dealing with such individuals.
Even though the activities of EFFC and SARS have been greatly criticized in recent times, the truth remains that these security agencies are working (to some extent) to keep our society safe and free from crimes.
Do not hesitate to let them know about any fraudulent activity you discovered to be going on online.
Remember, while some of us may pity criminals at times, some of us are very serious victims of their crimes.
Our country already has enough bad names in the outside world when it comes to online crimes, let’s prove to the world we are not all fraudsters and are actually one of the most genuine and hardworking people on earth.
Let us not encourage crime in any way or even have a part in it.