MATT GEPHARDT

Gephardt: Cybersecurity Experts Warn Of Spike In Social Media Advertising Scams

Aug 18, 2020, 6:15 PM | Updated: 8:52 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Cybersecurity experts are sounding the alarm over persuasive advertising on social media that can scam you out of your hard-earned money. 

Maybe it has happened to you. You are scrolling through your social media feed when something for sale catches your eye. You order the item and are told it will arrive in a couple of days or weeks. But after a few months, no product.

You could have been a victim of porch pirates stealing your order right from your stoop. Or perhaps you were robbed from the start. 

Alex Hamerstone leads the governance, risk management and compliance programs for TrustedSec – a company that helps businesses keep hackers out. 

“We’re seeing a huge uptick in scams,” Hamerstone told KSL. He said as more consumers shop online to avoid going into stores, they are becoming easier targets for scammers. 

Criminals are using social media ads to trick consumers into visiting fake shopping websites, where they will have their money and identities stolen. 

“We’ve actually even seen (that) on some of the most reputable sites out there, places that people go every day for their news,” explained Hamerstone. “Other things have had ads on there that ended up having fake products or giving them viruses or malware or things like that.” 

It’s not just the cybersecurity experts voicing concern – so are federal officials. 

“An increasing number of victims are being directed to fraudulent websites via social media platforms,” according to the FBI. 

So, how do you know if a product you order will actually show up? 

“That’s a tough question,” said Hamerstone.

The truth is, it can be hard to know. But Hamerstone said don’t assume the social media company has done any research to make sure the advertiser is legit.

“If you see somebody advertising on a major website, or you know, a website that you trust for your news, oftentimes those really have nothing to do with that site,” he said. 

According to the FBI, the most common things that are ordered and then never arrive include gym equipment, small appliances, tools, furniture and yes, face masks. 

Watch out for things that are priced just too low!

Federal officials said most victims thought they were getting a screaming deal.

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Gephardt: Cybersecurity Experts Warn Of Spike In Social Media Advertising Scams