Snapchat Scams: A Growing Threat

In the ever-evolving social media landscape, Snapchat Scams have become a significant concern for users, law enforcement agencies, and cybersecurity specialists. These deceptive practices range from phishing attempts to investment scams, capitalizing on the platform’s ephemeral nature to evade detection. Understanding the mechanics and red flags associated with Snapchat Scams is crucial for safeguarding your digital presence and financial assets.

Snapchat Scams

Launched in 2011 as Picaboo, Snapchat is a social media/messaging platform that enables users to send messages, including photos and videos, that disappear after the recipient views them.

Snapchat’s utility and selling point has been user privacy. Younger users feel safe sharing naughty videos and pictures through the platform, as no one but the recipient can view such material once. In 2013, the app introduced the Stories feature that allows videos and pictures to be viewed for 24 hours. Regardless, the data users share through the platform is still short-lived and disappears forever.

Despite the ephemeral nature of data shared through Snapchat, the platform faced criticism and controversy regarding user privacy and data security. The Snapchat platform now includes chat, Discover, and AR capabilities, among its other features.

Its popularity has not escaped the attention of cyber criminals who quickly devised ways to scam Snapchat users. And as Snapchat’s popularity rises, so does the number of scams criminals attempt on the platform. The disappearing messages of the platform make it more difficult for victims and investigators to collect evidence on criminal activity.

The Rise of Snapchat Scams

Through scams on the Snapchat platform, criminals look to obtain sensitive personal information from users, money, or access to various accounts the users may have. They invent fictitious scenarios and situations, attempt to romantically woo users, impersonate others, or offer access to unrealistically profitable investment opportunities.

There are many different types of Snapchat scams. But, as such, they all fit a general structure to some degree. If you know the approximate anatomy of a Snapchat scam you will find it easier to recognize the ones criminals use to target you.

The Anatomy of a Snapchat Scam

Every Snapchat scam begins with an initial contact. In the vast majority of cases, criminals contact their would-be victims through a message, post response, or friend request. Be wary of unsolicited contacts. If someone you don’t know contacts you, you may be looking at a scam attempt.

Following the initial contact, Snapchat scams tend to go through the following steps:

  • Engagement. During this stage of the scam, criminals convince their victims through emotional and psychological manipulation that they are real people and are only interested in genuine interaction.
  • Fake profiles. Scammers always hide behind fake profiles. They can conjure such profiles out of thin air or assume the identity of existing people.
  • The story. Having put the caution of the victim to sleep through convincing engagement, the scammers “present their case.” They concoct a story that requires the victim to share personal information, click a link, or send money.
  • The proceeds of the crime. Scammers always look to acquire something of value through their devious Snapchat schemes. This can include money or personal information leading to financial gains, like account numbers, social security numbers, gift cards, credit card details, etc.
  • The promise. To hook their victims, scammers make lavish promises. They play on exploiting greed and will go to blatant lengths in this regard.
  • Urgency. To lend weight to their promises and deny their victims the chance to think about the “deal” they’re getting, scammers always try to induce urgency by claiming limited opportunities, a crisis, etc.
  • Blackmail and threats. Some more malicious scams involve blackmail and threats instead of the classic play on greed.
  • Escalation. If the victim doesn’t want to play along, scammers may become aggressive and try intimidation as a tactic of last resort.

The Most Prevalent Snapchat Scams

Many Snapchat scams are doing the rounds, and new ones may pop up at any time. Only the creativity of the criminals sets a limit on how diverse these scams may be. Here’s a look at the most common Snapchat scams.

Giveaway Scams

Scammers impersonate well-known influencers or organizations and advertise contests and giveaways with lavish prizes. They require would-be participants to send money or share personal information.

Phishing Scams

Phishing messages originate from accounts allegedly belonging to well-known organizations or individuals. These messages ask recipients to click on a link or provide sensitive information like credit card details, etc.

Investment Scams

These scams appeal to greed. They dangle highly profitable investment schemes or cryptocurrency opportunities people often can’t resist. They also require victims to make an initial investment or send the scammers money one way or another.

Romance Scams

Romance scams appeal to another basic human need. The creators of the fake accounts peddle promises of romantic relationships. To fulfill the relationship, they demand money from the victim in one form or another (for travel expenses, to avert a crisis, etc.)

Malware Infection

Some phishing messages and the links they contain can infect the victim’s device with malware. Criminals use malware to extract sensitive personal information from the infected devices.

Premium Account “Deals”

Some Snapchat messages promise users promotion in exchange for a fee. Once the victim pays, the scammers make off with the money, never to be heard from again.

Impersonation Scams

Scammers may send their victims messages from fake accounts posing as friends or family members. They convince victims to send them money to avert a crisis, etc.

Job Offer Scams

Snapchat scammers may offer their victims jobs with attractive remuneration. To qualify, they require them to send them a payment for fees, background checks, training materials, etc.

Inheritance Scams

Lottery and inheritance scams may not be as frequent as they used to be, but they still exist and may surface on Snapchat. Scammers require victims to pay them upfront fees to gain access to their alleged bequests and lottery winnings.

The Connection to Cryptocurrency

With its disappearing messages, Snapchat is the ideal platform for scams. Being pseudo-anonymous and censorship-resistant, cryptocurrencies are the ideal payment vehicles for online crime.

Criminals like to request payments in cryptocurrencies as part of many different scams. Some Snapchat scams involving cryptocurrencies are:

  • Investment scams
  • Ransomware threats
  • Phishing
  • Cryptocurrency giveaways
  • Impersonation scams
  • Pump-and-dump schemes
  • Wallet scams

Cryptocurrencies lend themselves well to all Snapchat scams. Be extra cautious with everything involving cryptocurrencies on social media.

Snapchat Scam Case Studies

According to ABC News Australia, English backpacker Charlie Wade was met with a message from an attractive woman on Snapchat when he landed in Australia. The scammer requested a nude photo from the Englishman. As soon as he complied, the person on the other end of the messaging app started threatening to send the photos to all his Instagram followers unless he paid him/her GBP500. Although he tried to make the transfer, Charlie was lucky it didn’t go through. An acquaintance of his fell victim to the same extortion scam and ended up losing GBP1,500.

Paying the scammers is never an option. They may and probably will publish the pictures anyway after they receive the payment. Charlie had some explaining to do to some of his contacts, but he never paid the scammers.

Prevention and Safety Tips

Your first and most important step in this respect is to educate yourself about these scams. If you have read this article up to this point, you know enough about them to avoid most. Here’s a sum-up of some additional tips:

  • Always beware of unsolicited Snapchat messages.
  • Never trust unknown people who are surprisingly friendly on the platform.
  • Treat urgency as a major red flag.
  • Treat everything with any connection to cryptocurrencies with caution on social media.
  • Never share your personal information.
  • Never send anyone you met through social media any money.
  • Treat all social media-based payment requests as huge red flags.
  • Always verify the identity of contacts who engage you in conversation.
  • Educate your family and friends about the dangers of Snapchat scams.

How CNC Intelligence Can Help

CNC Intelligence can help you by educating you about the dangers and methods of Snapchat scams.
We can also trace stolen cryptocurrency assets and assist law enforcement with their recovery efforts.

Beyond tracing and finding your stolen assets, we can put you in contact with the authorities who can help you recover your stolen funds.

The Bottom Line

Due to its ephemeral messages, Snapchat is the perfect platform for social media scams. Criminals know this. And they have adapted a wide range of scams to the popular social media platform.

Only the creativity of criminals sets a limit on how they can scam you through Snapchat. They can further increase their effectiveness by combining their scams with cryptocurrency payments.

The best way to avoid being scammed is to learn about the nature of Snapchat scams. If you fall victim to such a scam, CNC Intelligence Inc. can help you trace and facilitate the recovery of your lost funds.

We offer complimentary consultations to determine if our Asset Tracing, Recovery Assistance, and Intelligence Services suit your case.

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