Fraudsters Increasingly Targeting Teens With Get-Rich-Quick Schemes Over Social Media

Sep 3, 2019, 7:35 PM | Updated: Feb 7, 2023, 11:18 am

RIVERTON, Utah – Fraudsters are using social media and get-rich-quick schemes to steal money and personal information from Utah teens.

Cole Hartney learned a hard lesson about easy money when a job turned out to be a scam.

“I saw myself in this hole. I was like all, ‘This is going to be an easy way to get myself out of it,’” Hartney recalled. “But, in all reality, I just dug myself a little deeper.”

The digging started with a message on Instagram Hartney, who was 16 years old at the time, said he got from a friend’s uncle, offering to pay him for filling out survey packets.

“I even like, called him on the phone and was like talking to him,” he said.

Hartney realized too late the uncle was an imposter, and he had handed over his banking information to a thief, not an employer.

“I saw (that) it looked like there was $2,000 in my account. But, what was actually happening is he was just taking out money for himself,” Hartney said.

“In the last three or four months, we’re seeing the numbers of scammers targeting our youth really raise up,” said Robin Heiden of Mountain America Credit Union. “They tell the youth that, ‘I have a job opportunity for you.’”

The fraudsters are contacting teens through Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and other social media with those offers of big money for little work.

“They tell them, ‘Let’s get your sign-on for your bank account and we’ll deposit a check,” Heiden explained.

The information the bad guys are getting is not just account and routing numbers. Many teens are talked into giving out their bank login credentials. And, because people often reuse passwords for several different websites, social media often gets compromised, too.

“They (scammers) go out to their (victim’s) friends and say, ‘Hey, come and join me in this really good business venture. You’ll make a lot of money!’” described Heiden. “And, it’s really not even that person. They’re (scammers) imitating them via their (victim’s) social media.”

Heiden stressed that parents need to talk to their teens about not giving up financial details to anyone they don’t know and trust. Because, if they do give out that info, they could be on the hook for money stolen from their account.

Hartney said he paid his credit union back $987.

“I probably should have just listened to my mom,” reflected Hartney. “She warned me. She was like, ‘I wouldn’t do it. It sounds too good to be true.’”

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Fraudsters Increasingly Targeting Teens With Get-Rich-Quick Schemes Over Social Media