A 22-year-old Instagram and YouTube “influencer” has been arrested after allegedly convincing her followers to assist her in a fraud scheme. Prosecutors say the influencer posted on Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook using social engineering to tell her followers to DM her if they wanted to make money.
When someone responded, the influencer would offer to pay them to let her friend use their bank account to temporarily store some money as a tax write-off. She allegedly assured them it was legal and told them to empty the account, so they didn’t suspect she was trying to steal their money … seems legit so far right?
Once the influencer and her associates had access to a victim’s bank account, they would allegedly deposit money orders and checks into the account and then withdraw it as cash … these were counterfeit.
When the victim’s bank realised the money orders and cheques were fraudulent, it would recall the money and the victim’s “empty” account resulting in victim’s now being thousands of dollars in the red.
They would then block the victim across social media platforms.
This influencer and her friends allegedly made $1.5 million using this technique, cashing 1,600 fraudulent cheques and 600 forged or stolen money orders between May 2018 and February 2020.
Most of the victims of the scam were young people, and some were minors and in today’s digital environment, everyone is vulnerable to social engineering and technology facilitates this type of manipulation.
She had about a hundred-thousand YouTube followers and over three hundred-thousand Instagram followers, with whom she shared tips on hair care, fashion, and quick money schemes.
One might think only besotted individuals would fall for this kind of scam, but in fact a surprising number of the influencers alleged victims were businesses.
You should immediately be suspicious when someone offers to help you make easy money on the internet, and you certainly shouldn’t take their word for it if they assure you the scheme is legal. Security awareness training can give your employees a healthy sense of scepticism so they can recognise when something is too good to be true. And it can also remind them that get-rich-quick isn’t really part of your business plan.
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