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8 Telegram scams. How not to get scammed

Cristina POPOV

April 22, 2024

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8 Telegram scams. How not to get scammed

Telegram is a popular app among scammers for several reasons. First, it offers a high level of anonymity, as users can sign up without revealing their phone numbers, making it difficult to trace their identities. Additionally, the app provides encrypted messaging, making it harder for authorities to monitor their activities.

However, scammers are most attracted to Telegram because of its massive global user base, which offers them a vast pool of potential victims. With a billion users expected by the end of 2024, scammers will have no shortage of targets.

Finally, Telegram's features, such as group chats, file sharing, and support for automated chatbots, give scammers efficient ways to spread their scams to many people at once. They can create groups, send malicious links and files, or program bots to do the dirty work for them.

The most common scams on Telegram

Scammers on Telegram have managed to manipulate the app for criminal gain in many different ways.

Here are the most common scams you may encounter:

1. Fake Telegram Channels and Groups. Scammers create channels and groups mimicking legitimate ones for crypto projects, companies, or public figures. These fakes have similar names, images, and posts to trick users into thinking they are official. They are often set up as "broadcast only," so users cannot write messages in the chat. They are then used to promote fraudulent giveaways, token sales, and investment scams to steal money or personal data.

2. Phishing with Chatbots. One unique aspect of Telegram is that it allows people to build and use chatbots powered by advanced language processing and AI. These bots can have incredibly realistic conversations. Hackers program them to pose as customer support for banks, tech firms, crypto platforms, etc. They call people and convince them to hand over personal information, bank account logins, passwords, and even two-factor authentication (2FA) codes.

3. Crypto Scams. Telegram has become an extremely popular app for people interested in cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. Scammers have noticed this trend and are taking full advantage by pretending to be cryptocurrency experts on Telegram. Their goal is to trick victims into handing over their crypto coins, cash, or account logins. These scammers claim they can generate massive profits and guarantee returns by having you invest through shady investment platforms they control. They'll show you fake charts and data, making it look like your investment is growing rapidly. But when you try to withdraw your supposed earnings, the scammers disappear along with your money.

A good example of crypto scams is the "Pump and Dump" Groups. Coordinators of these groups artificially inflate the price of a cryptocurrency they own by rallying members to purchase it. Once the price has peaked, the scammers sell off and cause a price crash, defrauding members.

4. Impersonation Scams. Scammers create fake accounts that look similar to real companies or trusted figures and reach out to people offering help or assistance. They do this to gain your trust before attempting to take over your account or redirect you to a phishing website. Sometimes, they even impersonate your family members or friends to deceive you into trusting them. These scams can result in loss of money, gifts, or personal information.

5. Fake customer support. Scammers pose as Telegram support agents and contact users, claiming issues with their accounts. They request sensitive information, such as verification codes or passwords, to resolve the problem.

In other cases, scammers use bots that impersonate tech support. The bots search channels and groups for specific keywords and phrases. Once found, they reach out to users and claim to represent a company. They then ask for sensitive information or demand payment for "premium" support.

Related: How To Spot and Avoid Tech Support Scams

6. Fake ads scams. The cybercriminals publish "bait ads" on popular marketplaces such as Craiglist, Facebook Marketplace, and classified websites. Products such as cameras, game consoles, laptops, or smartphones are posted at low prices. If a victim contacts the seller, they are asked to continue communicating through a third-party messenger app, WhatsApp or Telegram. If these communications occur via Telegram, the ploy uses Telegram chatbots.

7. Employment Scams. Beware of employment scams. Scammers often post fake job listings with attractive offers like high salaries and flexible work hours. They ask you to add a "Hiring Manager" on Telegram, which cannot be tracked on the app. When you reach out to them, they may try to take advantage of you by requesting sensitive information or asking you to pay for training materials. Stay cautious and alert to avoid falling for such scams.

Related: The anatomy of a scam: 'Like YouTube Videos and Get Paid' schemes

8. Telegram Romance Scams. Some romance scams start on dating apps and develop over a long period, but on Telegram, they often focus on brief flings or explicit content. The scammers will frequently request money or gift cards, claiming they need them to cover costs associated with meeting up. In other cases, the scammers attempt to obtain compromising photos or videos from their victims, which can then be used for blackmail or sextortion schemes. Regardless of the pretext, the goal is to extract funds or sensitive content through the fiction of an online romantic relationship.

How to Identify a Fake Telegram Account or Profile?

Here are some tips to help identify fake Telegram accounts:

1. Profile Picture and Username

  • Look out for generic or stolen profile pictures. Use reverse image search to check if the photo appears elsewhere online.
  • Check if the username (starting with @) and display name don't match. Inconsistencies between these are a warning sign.

2. Activity and Messages

  • Fake accounts often have limited activity - few posts, contacts or profile details.
  • Be wary of unsolicited messages containing suspicious links, requests for personal info, or promotions of dubious schemes.

3. Contact Details

  • If contact info like phone numbers or emails are provided, independently verify they are legitimate. Fake accounts commonly use false contact details.

4. Profile Information

  • Incomplete profiles lacking detailed personal information can indicate a fake account. Genuine users tend to fill out their profiles.
  • Poor grammar and spelling mistakes in their descriptions or messages may signal a fake profile.

5. Verification and Official Accounts

  • Some public figures or businesses have verified accounts with a blue checkmark. Check if the account claiming to represent them is genuine.
  • Cross-check details provided against the official websites or social media of the person/organization.

6. Use Scamio to Detect Scammers

If something seems suspicious, trust your instincts. Be wary of unsolicited direct messages, accounts claiming to be "admins" or tech support requesting personal information, and anyone asking for your login credentials, location, photos, videos, or money transfers – these are common signs of a scam.

Scamio is a powerful tool that can help you identify potential scammers on Telegram. Here's how to use it:

a. Copy the message, link, photo, proposal, or QR code you receive on Telegram and send it to Scamio, on WhatsApp,  Facebook Messenger, or web browser.

b. Scamio will analyze the data and determine if the account is likely a scammer based on its extensive database.

c. If Scamio flags the account as a scammer, immediately cease all communication and do not share any information or funds.

Other tips to protect yourself from Telegram scams:

  • Never Share Sensitive Information. Be extremely cautious about sharing any sensitive personal or financial information on Telegram. Legitimate companies will never ask for passwords, credit card numbers, or banking credentials over a messaging app.
  • Don't Click Random Links. Avoid clicking on suspicious links or downloading unsolicited files, even if they appear to come from trusted contacts whose accounts may have been compromised.
  • Adjust your account privacy settings. Keep your Telegram app updated to the latest version, which includes the most recent security fixes. Also, ensure your devices have updated antivirus protection, and you adjust your privacy and security settings. Make sure you only allow your contacts to see your personal information.

Related: How to hide your phone number on Telegram

Enable 2-Factor Authentication. Turn on two-factor authentication (2FA) for an extra layer of security on your Telegram account. This prevents unauthorized access even if scammers obtain your password.

FAQ about scams on Telegram

How can I tell if a Telegram group or channel is legitimate?

Verify the group/channel details against the official website or social media of the company/person it claims to represent. Look for signs of verification, like a blue checkmark. Be wary of subtle name changes that attempt to impersonate the real thing. Always ask Scamio to run a check for you.

I've fallen victim to a Telegram scam. What should I do?

If you realize you've been scammed on Telegram, there are a few important steps to take right away:

1. Stop all communication with the scammer immediately. Do not send them any more money or personal information.

2. Reset any passwords/credentials that you may have compromised by sharing them with the scammer.

3. Report the scam account(s) to Telegram.

4. If you've lost money or had financial accounts compromised, contact your bank and report it to the proper authorities like the FTC or your local police.

Can scammers on Telegram be found and punished for their crimes?

Unfortunately, it is very difficult to definitively identify the individuals running scam accounts and operations on Telegram due to the anonymity and encryption features Telegram provides. In some cases, scammers can be identified and face legal consequences. However, successfully finding and punishing them requires coordination and resources from authorities.



Cristina POPOV

Cristina is a freelance writer and a mother of two living in Denmark. Her 15 years experience in communication includes developing content for tv, online, mobile apps, and a chatbot.

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