That’s more than any other contact method — phone calls, emails, texts, or regular mail —according to the FTC.
In a Data Spotlight, Emma Fletcher, a senior data researcher for the FTC, wrote that scammers are often “hiding in plain sight on social media platforms.”
“Social media gives scammers an edge in several ways. They can easily manufacture a fake persona, or hack into your profile, pretend to be you and con your friends,” Fletcher wrote. “They can learn to tailor their approach from what you share on social media, and scammers who place ads can even use tools available to advertisers to methodically target you based on personal details, such as your age, interests or past purchases. All of this costs them next to nothing to reach billions of people from anywhere in the world.”
Online shopping scams, especially ones where people bought an item from an ad on Facebook or Instagram but didn’t receive it, were among the most frequently reported tricks in the first half of 2023. FTC data shows they accounted for 44% of all social media fraud loss reports.
Fake investment opportunities, however, made for the largest share of dollar losses during that same time period. For the first six months of 2023, about 53% of the money reported lost to fraud on social media went to “investment scammers,” the FTC wrote.
Cryptocurrency was used in more than half of the investment scams reported by consumers.
A good number of the scams reported to the FTC also involve romance, which is why the FTC cautions people to never send money to someone they haven’t met in person.
There are other ways people can try to avoid being duped, as well.
The FTC suggests limiting who can see your posts and information on social media; calling friends if they sent a message about an opportunity or urgent need for money; and checking out a company online before buying from them.