In 2022, lottery and investment scams on Instagram reportedly reached historic highs. This was partly to blame on the then-newly released iPhone 13. Those scammers apparently found a new tactic: tagging a group of users in a regular post or story. If you fall for these or trust them, you could lose big.
The iPhone 13 launched in September 2021. Half a year later, something totally unremarkable happened. The phone became one of the most sought-after items during the 2021 holiday season, and scammers jumped in to infect the trend after 2022 rolled in. Users were repeatedly being tagged in junk posts none other than this:
Believe it or not, this is an extremely widespread form of malware. It can end up slipping in like a virus whenever you post something in a specific hashtag, but can also happen if you like or comment on particular posts. Additionally, visiting a questionable website or downloading an app and linking your Instagram account can lead to this.
After these scams started becoming widespread, users began reporting the posts as spam and blocking the accounts. Instagram then began banning users who posted these images. Even if banned, the scammers repeatedly end up creating new accounts to continue their tomfoolery. This lasted for several months.
During the second half of 2022, scammers found a new tactic: mentioning users through story mentions.
These scams can take many mentions, including fake discounts for products and services, and possible fake dating/romance partners. In November 2022, more than 2.3 billion posts were removed from Instagram and Facebook combined. 15 million of those posts on Instagram were related to scams and commercially deceptive content.
Additionally, these scams can peak during the holiday season thanks to the busy shopping that a lot of people do during that time, usually starting on Black Friday and lasting through the entire month of December. In 2021, holiday scams cost consumers over $337 million, with credit card fraud accounting for roughly half of the lost money.
As technology evolves into 2023, scams will become more and more common as new tactics are constantly being developed and/or improved. Meta is strongly encouraging users to beef up security on their Facebook and Instagram profiles, such as enabling MFA and such. We will never know what scams may lurk in 2023.