AG Brnovich Issues Consumer Advisory Regarding Social Media Scams

Attorney General Mark Brnovich wants Arizona consumers to keep an eye out for social media scams.

Social media has become one of the most prevalent means of conducting consumer scams, accounting for about a quarter of all scam losses last year – about $770 million nationwide. In particular, investment and cryptocurrency social media scams have become increasingly common.

“Scammers want to be your friend on social media and take advantage of your trust,” said Attorney General Mark Brnovich.  “Think twice before sending money to anyone who contacts you through social media.”

Attorney General Brnovich’s office has seen the following types of social media scams:

  • Online Ad Scams: Scammers post an advertisement on social media offering a great price for a product. Victims place an order and pay online, but they never receive merchandise. Sometimes scammers impersonate real companies and include links to fake “lookalike” websites.
  • Investment Scams: Scammers provide an investment opportunity, such as purchasing cryptocurrency; however, once the victim gives the scammer money, the scammer will disappear or keep asking for more money. Sometimes, the scammers provide a realistic-looking investment website that allows victims to see their “investment account,” but the victim is never allowed to withdraw the money.
  • Impersonation Scams: Scammers contact people using fake accounts, sometimes accounts that appear to be friends or family members, and ask for money. Other times, the scammer appears to be a famous celebrity or businessperson who asks you to invest with them.
  • Phishing Scams: Scammers send people messages asking them to reveal their passwords, credentials, or crypto wallet private keys. These messages often are made to appear to be coming from a legitimate company and ask you to enter or share private information.
  • Romance Scams: Scammers match with potential victims over social media or dating apps, try to establish trust, and then ask for money or passwords.
Arizonans should keep the following tips in mind when dealing with others on social media:
  • Limit who can see your information and posts on your social media accounts.  Visit your privacy settings to see restrictions.
  • Check your social media platform(s) to see if you can “opt-out” of targeted advertising.
  • Before making a purchase based on a social media ad or post, look into the company. Use a search engine to visit the company’s actual website or to search the company’s name with “scam,” “complaint,” or “review.”
  • Misspellings on a website or ad can be signs of a scam.
  • If you receive a message from a friend or family member requesting urgent funds, call them.  Their account may have been hacked.
  • Do not act immediately. Scammers try to make opportunities sound urgent, so victims feel they do not have time to critically evaluate the situation. Take the time to consult with a trusted friend or family member before sending money to someone you met online.
  • Be extremely cautious if you receive a check from someone you met on social media, and do not send your money elsewhere on the basis of a received check, which may bounce weeks later.
  • Do not rush into a friendship or romance with someone you have only met over the internet.
  • Do not send gift cards, money transfers, or cash.
  • Report fraudulent activity to your social media platform.
  • Do not give anyone online your passwords, account credentials, or crypto private key.
  • Be wary of any investment that promises guaranteed returns or a big payout. Always do your research and ask questions before investing.  Meet personally with the representatives of the company and view the physical location of the company before making an investment.
  • Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

If you believe you have been the victim of consumer fraud, you can file a consumer complaint by visiting the Attorney General’s website.  If you need a complaint form sent to you, you can contact the Attorney General’s Office in Phoenix at (602) 542-5763, in Tucson at (520) 628-6648, or outside the Phoenix and Tucson metro areas at (800) 352-8431.

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