When the likes of Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey started creating the social media platforms that have connected people across the globe, they couldn’t have predicted that those platforms would one day be used for sophisticated financial scams.
Unfortunately, though, this is the position that we’re now in: many fraudsters take to sites like Facebook and Twitter as an easy way of reaching huge numbers of potential victims. Now there are questions about whether the social media companies need to be doing more to stop scams.
A recent investigation from Which? found that many scammers were allowed to continue operating even after their illegal activity had been reported. This was found across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and, worryingly, related particularly to the buying and selling of personal data.
The type of information being advertised for sale included bank and credit card details, hacked Netflix accounts and stolen identities. In one example that they shared, a person’s full profile including name, date of birth, address and banking information was being shared within a Facebook group. There are also accounts offering to sell fake passports.
The issue, then, is the enforcement of the rules: these scams are not being removed when they should be. Which? reported the scams that they found, but the accounts were not removed – in some cases, they were even informed that the fraudulent activity they’d detected was not in violation of any community standards. This is clearly not the case, and may be due to automated processes that don’t pick up on the nuances of this type of activity.
Which?’s money editor, Jenny Ross, commented that:
“It’s astonishing that social media sites make it so easy for criminals to trade people’s personal and financial information, particularly as fraud is such a prevalent crime that can have devastating consequences. Social media firms must take much stronger action to prevent their sites becoming a safe haven for scammers and should work with the financial industry and police to address serious flaws with their platforms.”
It seems clear that, although social media platforms have put steps in place to try and curb scam activity on their platforms, there’s a lot more work still to do. Fraudsters are forever evolving their methods to dodge whatever processes have been put in place to stop them, and this means that anti-fraud teams need to be on their toes.
We hope that this will be a wakeup call for any social media sites that were beginning to get complacent, showing just how much effort is needed if we’re going to stamp out this type of online scamming.