In this modern age of technology people have the ability to quickly connect with each other over the internet. This creates opportunities for investment promoters to find new clients but also increases chances of scam attacks and hackers getting their hands on your personal information.
What are social networks?
Social network is a platform where users can connect and communicate online. These people may find that they have similar interests, lifestyles, hobbies, faith, relationships, etc. Users can connect with each other all around the world and become friends on websites such as Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, eHarmony, etc. New social networks appear fairly often as well.
One is also able to make such connections offline by joining community service programs, professional associations, organizations based on faith, and many others.
Con artists often infiltrate social networks on the lookout for their next victim. If users actively cwork together for the sake of their network or community, they can keep con artists at bay. Sometimes con artists will pretend to be someone they’re not to enter social networks and work towards gaining other users’ trust before striking.
How can a social network be exploited by con artists?
Con artists will use the traditional social networks to join in on their regular weekly or monthly meetings and share information such as personal lifestyle and interests. Once a con artist establishes the trust and credibility (which can be done quicker than you might think), they will access a potential victim’s personal information right from the profiles they have established.
These could contain sensitive information such as phone numbers, birthdates, address of residence, employment history, religious and political preferences, and even photographs of your family and yourself.
Con artists will not hesitate to acquire people’s personal information from social networks. They know how easy it is to get due to the fact that people so freely share their backgrounds with others when they visit a social network site. And it is not just your information that con artists can find. Once they have access to a person’s info, they can proceed to other accounts through the data they have received.
Red flags of an online investment scam – are there any?
Whether it is online or offline, signs of an investment fraud will be the same. Study these red flags and be able to recognize them:
Off-shore operation is characteristic of many scam cases. They will have their headquarters in an area that makes it difficult for regulators to find and shut them down (and retrieve what they owe back to those they stole from).
Promises of high returns with no risks involved. Beware if someone is promising high returns that sound too good to be true. If they are guaranteeing returns of 2% daily, 14% weekly, or 40% on a monthly basis, just keep in mind that not even the best of the best can make promises like this, whether it is short-term or long-term. Nothing is a guarantee when dealing in the markets.
They mention recruiting your friends. Pay close attention – as most cons will try to talk you into recruiting your friends by offering bonuses.
E-Currency sites. Anytime you are transferring money and there is a need to open an e-currency account, beware and use caution. Cons may be using sites that are not regulated (it helps in covering up money trails).
If there is no written information and you cannot locate any information regarding forms, policies, or the procedures to use in getting your money out, then you need to get out. Legitimate sites will provide this and more, such as the risks involved and other detailed information.
Websites that appear to be professional but offer very little or no information. Just about anyone can put up a website, if not, you can easily have it done for you. Just because it looks professional does not mean that it is, and many scam sites will have a top-notch looking website with the exception of lacking details and information about policies, procedures, and possibly themselves.
How can I protect myself?
Protecting yourself from scams online requires caution and a great deal of research. Make sure you are following these guidelines:
Privacy and security settings can be adjusted accordingly and you should limit the personal information that you post.
Contact DFI and find out the status of the investor. You are able to verify licenses at their official website.
Search up the names of all persons and companies involved. Con artists often use fake names, so if it turns out that there is very little or no information on those offering you the investment deal, take it as a red flag.
Ask for written documentation that shows the details, risks, and procedures to get out your money. Keep a prospectus.
Never let someone pressure you into doing something. Take your time and find out more. Remember, it is not wise to take the word of a person trying to sell you something. Keep in mind that if they want you to buy it so bad, they will tell you anything to make that happen.
You cannot always believe the testimonials you read because it is fairly simple to post reviews. Also, some scam artists get sneakier. They pay out high returns to the newest investors to make them spend more in the long run. This type of scams is called the ‘Ponzi scheme.’ When a fraud is being aimed at a group of people that have similar interests, it is referred to as ‘affinity fraud’.
Go over this checklist before you invest in anything using a social network and be sure to ask yourself whether you have truly done your research and are aware of all the risks involved.