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Media > Newsletters > Consumer Advocate > April 2022 > Social Media Scams Widespread Throughout Ohio and Nation

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Social Media Scams Widespread Throughout Ohio and Nation

Do you like to connect on social media? You’re not alone. According to a 2021 Pew Research Center study, more than eight of every 10 consumers between 18 and 29 years old are using social media.

Think that older adults don’t connect? That would be false. The truth is that many older adults have been adapting to one or more of the social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. Of those between 50 and 64 years old, 73% are on social media. More than four in 10 adults 65 and older are connecting through one of these platforms.

Social media opens up new communication channels, which presents us with opportunities as well as risks. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), in 2021 nearly 100,000 Americans said they had been scammed through a ploy that originated on social media, and around $770 million was lost through ads, messages and posts distributed through these channels by con artists.

“Reports point to rampant investment, romance, and online shopping scams on social (media),” according to the FTC. “People reported losing the most money to investment scams (particularly those involving bogus cryptocurrency investments) and romance scams. More than a third of the people who lost money to romance scams said it started on Facebook or Instagram.”

Based on the FTC data, the most reports came from consumers who tried to buy a product through social media; many didn’t receive the product while others were defrauded by an imposter of a legitimate online business. Interestingly, consumers 18 to 39 years old “were more than twice as likely to report losing money than older adults.”

The following tips from the FTC will help you stay safe on social media:
  • Do what you can to limit who sees your posts and information. Use your privacy settings to set limits.
  • Consider opting out of targeted ads if that option is available.
  • Be careful when receiving any message or post through social media indicating a “friend” needs money. It might be a hacker impersonating your friend.
  • Research an online merchant before purchasing a product.
  • Don’t consider a merchant that requires a wire transfer, gift card or cryptocurrency to make an online purchase. It’s very likely a scam.
To dig deeper into this topic, check out this recent edition of the FTC’s Data Spotlight.

Consumers who suspect an unfair business practice or want help addressing a consumer problem should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at or 800-282-0515.