Social Media Fraud Is On the Rise — And Even the Most Savvy Are Getting Scammed. Here Are the Most Common. One in four individuals who reported being scammed since 2021 said it originated on social media, amounting to $2.7 billion in losses, per the FTC.

By Madeline Garfinkle

Key Takeaways

  • Scammers on social media craft fake personas and use targeted advertisements to carry out scams.
  • The most common social media fraud involves online shopping, accounting for 44% of reported cases.
  • Fake investment opportunities were the second most prevalent at 20%.

Social media use can provide a slew of opportunities — from furthering your career to cataloging memories to finding love and friendships. However, it can also offer opportunities for criminals, like scamming and defrauding.

According to a new report by the Federal Trade Commission, one in four individuals who reported losing money due to fraud since 2021 said that the scam began on social media.

The cumulative losses reported from these schemes during the same period have amounted to $2.7 billion, the report found, eclipsing any other communication method by a considerable margin. By comparison, the losses from websites or apps were $2 billion for the same period, phone calls were $1.9 billion, and email was $0.9 billion.

While social media scams affect all age groups, the report found that it's not senior citizens who are experiencing the most substantial impact. In the first half of 2023, individuals aged 20-29 reported that social media served as the primary method of contact in over 38% of fraud cases, while for those aged 18-19, the figure soared to 47%.

Related: I'm a Business News Editor, and Even I Fell Victim to an Online Scam That Cost Me $300

Social media gives scammers an "edge," the agency noted, as fraudsters can craft fake personas or compromise existing profiles, tailor their approach based on the information shared on social media, and use advertisements to target individuals according to personal details such as age, interests, or previous purchases — all at minimal cost and with the ability to reach a wide range of users.

The most common instance of fraud on social media in the first half of 2023 was users attempting to purchase a product on a platform, accounting for 44% of all reported social media fraud. Most of these incidents involved undelivered products, with clothing and electronics ranking highest on the list.

Counterfeit investment opportunities were the second most prevalent form of social media scams at 20%. However, it cost victims the most monetarily in the first six months of 2023, accounting for 53% of total losses from all social media scams, while shopping-related scams accounted for a mere 8%.

Related: Instagram Influencer Allegedly Scammed 'Older' And 'Vulnerable' Americans Out of $2 Million in Romance Scheme

With social media scams running rampant, the FTC is offering tips on how to stay vigilant:

  • Restrict the visibility of personal information on social media by adjusting privacy settings.
  • Be wary of messages from friends or acquaintances requesting money or offering a questionable opportunity, and verify their identity by contacting them off of the platform.
  • If someone on social media hastily pushes for a friendship or romantic connection, exercise caution, as romance scams are the third most common form of social media fraud.
  • Before making a purchase, conduct an online search of the company's name along with keywords like "scam" or "complaint" to assess its credibility.
Madeline Garfinkle

Entrepreneur Staff

News Writer

Madeline Garfinkle is a News Writer at She is a graduate from Syracuse University, and received an MFA from Columbia University. 

Editor's Pick

Related Topics

Business Ideas

This Teacher Sells Digital Downloads for $10. Her Side Hustle Now Makes Six Figures a Month: 'It Seems Too Good to Be True, But It's Not.'

When one middle school teacher needed to make some extra income, she started a remote side hustle with no physical products and incredibly low overhead. Now she brings in six figures each month, and offers courses teaching others how to do the same.


Great Leaders Must Be Great Coaches — Here's How to Become One

To be a successful leader, you must become an expert in how to help others grow and develop. Here's a research-driven approach for entrepreneurial leaders to coach and effectively develop their teams.


'I Haven't Ticked All the Boxes Yet.' Hilary Duff Reveals Her Next Venture After More Than 2 Decades in the Spotlight — and the Surprisingly Relatable Key to Her Enduring Success

The actor talks entrepreneurship, secrets to success and her latest role as chief brand director for Below 60°, a product line of air fragrances.

Business News

An Ivy League University Is Teaching the Secret of Taylor Swift's Success

Several major universities have added courses dedicated to studying Swift's star power.


How to Win Over the Room With Effective Persuasion Skills

The art of persuasion is not just about the notes, the data, and the pitch; it's about creating a connection that resonates with the audience. We explore how a blend of story, active listening, and genuine interaction can not only capture attention but also win hearts and minds, setting the stage for achieving success in any meeting.