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Media > Newsletters > Consumer Advocate > November 2014 > Attorney General DeWine Warns Ohioans of Scams on Social Media

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Attorney General DeWine Warns Ohioans of Scams on Social Media

While many scams begin with a phone call or door-to-door visit, others attract potential victims through postings on popular social media websites and apps.
Consumers need to be skeptical of ‘too-good-to-be-true’ pitches, and offers on social media are no exception. As we use more methods to communicate, scammers will try to take advantage of us using those same technologies.
For example, earlier this year, a Dayton resident reported a “money flipping” scam in which the scammer offered consumers a chance to “flip” an investment of a few hundred dollars into thousands of dollars. The scammer claimed to have successfully flipped his own money and wanted to share his success with others. Using the Instagram social media app, the consumer read about a way to pay $150 and get paid $5,000 virtually overnight; he fell victim to the scam and lost $150 after he paid but received nothing in return.
In addition, scammers can take advantage of consumers who post vacation plans or other personal information on social media. After the scammers see the information, they can use it to devise an “emergency” scam, such as needing money to get out of a foreign jail or to fix their automobile that has just broken down during their trip.
Another example of social media scams occurs when an online account is hacked by a scammer and used to send out “emergency” messages to a consumer’s network of friends or contacts asking for money.
In almost all social media scams, the scammer asks for payment through methods that are difficult to trace, including wire transfers or the purchase of a prepaid money card.
Consumers can protect themselves by following these safety tips:
  • Know that if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Any quick way to make a huge, guaranteed profit without any risks is likely a scam.
  • Be wary of any attempts by a stranger to get you to use a wire transfer service or purchase a prepaid money card.
  • Conduct online searches based on what information you know about the potential scammer, such as the person’s name, online user ID, email address, and phone number. Try searches using keywords from the posting and words such as “scam” or “complaint.”
  • Know that strange or unexpected social media postings that appear to be from friends could be the result of a scammer hacking into those friends’ social media accounts. Before sending money, always verify the friend actually sent the post and not an imposter. Try calling a mutual friend at a trusted phone number to check out the legitimacy of such a posting.
Consumers who suspect a scam or organizations wishing to schedule a cybersecurity presentation should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at or 800-282-0515.