Snapchat has almost 300 million daily users, some as young as 13. It’s an excellent social media application, especially for teenagers and young adults, primarily for exchanging photos, but there are dangers.
Snapchat scams happen daily, and they’re getting more and more creative. Here’s a guide on what to look out for and how to avoid them.
Types of Snapchat Scams
Hackers use Snapchat to steal personal information to perform identity theft. They’ll use photographs for blackmail; the most common is extorting money. Here are the most common Snapchat scams in the past year.
1. The Friend In Need
A hacker will pose as a friend using a fake profile. The phony friend request could be one of three:
The friend has had an emergency, like a car accident or a sick pet, and needs to ‘borrow’ funds, but to a different account that they may have used previously.
Another fake friend scam is where they claim they’ve been locked out of their account and ask to go through your account (via username and password) to try to find their details.
Thirdly, a scammer posing as a friend has a business opportunity to make fast money and wants you to join. Similarly to the first scam, they ask for money to be transferred for set-up fees, for example.
2. The Romance Scam
There are two ways people use Snapchat, posing as a romantic interest to get money or photos from the user.
Dating app scammers will push to move from the app to Snapchat quite quickly. This is especially common for military romance scams. They’ll claim to be in the US military and be lonely and want sexy photographs to prop themselves up when they feel down.
Once they receive the photos, they then blackmail the user threatening to expose and release them if they don’t send money.
The other romance scam is the Catfish one. The hacker portrays themselves as someone they’re not and tries to push the user into meeting them. They’re always out of town and ask for money for bus, plane, or train tickets to come and meet. Once they receive the money, they disappear.
3. Phishing Scams
These types of scams are popular globally, and Snapchat is no stranger to them. It starts with an email that looks like it came from Snapchat admin. The user is urged to log into their account as there’s an issue, something to win, or photos have been leaked.
The catch is they must ‘log in’ via the link in the email, which naturally doesn’t go to Snapchat. What it does is gives the hackers username and password details to take over the account.
How to Spot a Fake Snapchat Profile
One way to avoid being scammed is to try to determine if the profile is real or not. The number of users, location, images, avatars, and believability are ways to spot if a Snapchat profile is real or not.
Snap score: They claim to be an influencer but have a low Snap score - fake!
Snap map: Where they say they are doesn’t match their Snap location - fake!
Pictures: Use Google image search to see if the photos belong to them or someone else.
Bitmoji: Creating this cute avatar is a standard action for most Snapchat users. No Bitmoji, possibly fake.
Too good to be true: In every photo, they look like models; they have yachts, Ferraris and designer watches - yeah, probably fake!
Be Vigilant With Snapchat
To avoid falling prey to scammers, be on the lookout for fake profiles, and don’t click on any links that are ever sent, even if they look legit.
If a ‘friend’ contacts you and seems to be a bit off, get in touch with them via another source. Confirm that it’s really them or not, and chances are you’ve just avoided being scammed.