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Dangers of Snapchat scams. How scammers can steal your money

Cristina POPOV

May 28, 2024

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Dangers of Snapchat scams. How scammers can steal your money

The goal of a Snapchat scam is almost always to take over your account. Once scammers get access, they can lock you out and demand cash, Bitcoin, gift cards, and more from you or trick your friends or family into sending them money.

The problem is that scammers can do many harmful things once they get this private information: steal money from bank accounts and your digital identity, get personal photos or videos to use for blackmail, or even pretend to be you in other scams.

It's even more concerning as Snapchat lets kids as young as 13 sign up and young people may not always recognize these Snapchat dangers.

This article will explain common Snapchat scams and how to avoid becoming a victim.

Three facts about Snapchat

  • Snapchat has 800 million monthly active users worldwide, including 414 million daily active users.
  • On average, over 4.75 billion Snaps are created every day.
  • Gen Z users account for 51.1% of Snapchat monthly active user base in the US, more than on any other social media platform.

(source: Backlinko.com)

How to spot a fake Snapchat account

Snapchat has a lot of real accounts for influencers and famous people. But there are also many fake accounts made by scammers trying to trick you. Know how to tell the real ones from the fakes, looking for these signs:

• One way is to look at their Snap score—this shows how active they are on Snapchat. A real influencer will have a very high score because they use it a lot. A low score of just a few hundred likely means it's a fake account.

• You can also check their location on the Snap map to see if it matches what they say. And do a Google image search of their pictures - if the photos come up from other websites, they probably stole them.

• Most real accounts will have a Bitmoji avatar, too. So if there's no Bitmoji, that's a possible red flag it's fake.

• Be careful if a random account adds you and immediately asks for help or money or clicks on strange links. That's a typical scammer move. Even accounts claiming to be friends could be hacked, so double-check on another app if they act suspiciously.

• Fake accounts often use model photos and show off expensive things like cars and cash to try and lure you in. But if something seems too good to be true, it usually is a scam. Trust your instincts if an account seems fishy.

The 10 Most Common Snapchat Scams

Here are some of the most common ways that scammers can gain access to your Snapchat account:

  1. Friend account recovery scams

Sometimes, scammers pretend to be your friend who got locked out of their Snapchat account. They'll add you and say the only way for them to recover their username is if you give them your login details. If you do, the scammer will log into your account, lock you out, and demand money or inappropriate photos/videos to let you back in.

2. Money-Making Opportunity Scams

Another method scammers use is to use data found on the Dark web as a result of a breach. They use it to take over a Snapchat account and pretend to be the user, writing to the user's friends and family.

They'll talk about an easy way to make money or get free gift cards by signing up for something on Snapchat, knowing that people trust their friends and are more likely to follow their recommendations.

For instance, they might say, "I just made $500 doing a quick ad gig on Snapchat! All I had to do was pay a $50 fee to get access and I made 10x that back in a week." If you send them money for the "fee," they'll disappear with your cash. Or they may ask for your login to "set it up" and lock you out.

3. Asking for Money From "Friends"

When hijacking an account, scammers also commonly pretend to be your friend, asking for money by making up hard-luck stories.

They might say things like, "I'm so embarrassed, but my dog just got hit by a car, and I need $300 for emergency surgery. Can you please Venmo me?"

Or they'll ask you to cash a fake check for them, deposit it in your account, and send them the money while the check eventually bounces.

The key is being skeptical whenever someone, even friends, randomly asks for money. Verify it's them through other channels before sending cash.

4. Phishing Scams to Steal Your Login

Scammers will send fake emails or texts pretending to be from Snapchat. These messages try to get you to click a link and "login" to your account for made-up reasons like:

  • Your account was hacked and needs to be secured
  • Your snaps will be deleted or leaked if you don't verify
  • You won a contest but need to log in to claim your prize
  • Get access to special filters, lenses, or discount codes

If you click the link and enter your username and password, you're not logging into Snapchat. The scammer now has your login to take over your real account.

Related: How to Spot and Report Email Scams

5. Impersonating Snapchat's Support Team

Some scammers pretend to be official Snapchat support staff. They'll send messages claiming your private snaps will be deleted or made public unless you forward their message.

The message might say: "We've detected inappropriate content violating our rules. To prevent your account from being banned, you must share this message with all friends in the next 24 hours."

Snapchat has confirmed these are all scams that they never send out this type of emails. You should ignore and report any messages like this.

Related: How To Spot and Avoid Tech Support Scams

6. Romance Scams

Dating scammers are very active on Snapchat since messages disappear automatically. Common tricks include:

·Meeting on a dating app like Tinder or Bumble, building a relationship, then asking to switch to Snapchat. They'll request intimate photos/videos and threaten to expose them unless you pay up or share more.

·Catfishing by using fake profile pictures of an attractive person. They make you think you're in a real romantic relationship before eventually asking for money, nudes, etc.

·Suggesting a meetup date but asking you to pay upfront for their transportation, accommodations, etc. After you pay, they never show up.

The scammer's goal is to quickly build trust and emotional connection before exploiting you for money or sexual content.

Related: Better single than scammed. How to spot and avoid fake profiles on dating apps

7. "Benefactor" Scams

An older individual will reach out, promising to spoil you with cash, gifts, etc, in exchange for building a relationship. But it's just a scam where they:

  • Demand an upfront payment first before sending any allowance or gifts, then disappear
  • Ask for your bank info to "deposit money," but just drain your account
  • Send you money from a fake check, then ask you to send some back via gift cards before the check bounces.

For example, the individual will send $2,000 via check and ask you to buy her $500 in Steam gift cards as a thank you. The check will eventually bounce, leaving you out that $500.

Related: Steam Gift Cards Scams Are Still a Big Problem

8. Snapchat Girls, Adult Content, and Premium Account scams

In this scheme, fake accounts promise to share exclusive adult content and imagery if you pay a subscription fee or buy into a premium account using Venmo, CashApp, or Zelle. After you pay, the scammer ghosts you.

They might even ask for your bank account details to "automatically renew" the paid subscription and completely drain your funds.

9. Survey/Contest Scams

Fake celebrity, influencer, or business accounts offer you a chance to win prizes like gift cards if you pay to enter a contest or take a survey. After you pay the fee, you never actually get entered to win anything.

Or the survey links take you to malicious sites designed to steal your data or infect your device with malware.

10. Charity Scams

Scammers create accounts impersonating legitimate non-profits or charitable causes. They solicit donations through Venmo, CashApp, or GoFundMe but pocket the money themselves.

How to protect yourself from Snapchat scams

Here are some smart actions to keep your account and information secure:

• Be wary of random links or QR codes, even from friends whose accounts could be hacked. Don't click on anything suspicious.

• Never accept friend requests from people you don't know in real life.

• If a friend's account seems hacked or they're acting weird, contact them a different way to verify it's actually them before responding.

• Ignore any messages claiming to be from Snapchat's team about leaked photos or asking for your password. Snapchat will never send those.

• Use a strong, unique password at least 10 characters long, including numbers, symbols, etc. Don't reuse passwords across apps.

• Enable two-factor authentication

• Adjust your privacy settings to limit who can see your location, find you via Quick Add, receive Snaps from you, etc.

• Update your email and phone number on your account in case you get locked out and need to verify your identity.

• Don't open or engage with random accounts sending explicit or provocative content out of nowhere. Just block them.

• Never give out any personal info or login details or send money to people you don't know and trust in the real world.

• Use Scamio to detect scams and scammers. If you ever receive any messages or QR codes on Snapchat that you are unsure about, use Scamio, our AI-powered scam detection service. All you have to do is send Scamio any suspicious texts, messages, links, QR codes, or images you encounter on Snapchat. Scamio will analyze them and let you know if they are scams.

Scamio is free and available on Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and your web browser. Share it with your friends in France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Romania, Australia and the UK.

Protect your family members against Snapchat scammers

If your account is hacked, scammers may pose as you and target your family and friends. They may attempt to scam money from them by claiming that you are in need of financial assistance or trouble. Alternatively, they may send disturbing messages to your loved ones that seem like they are coming from you, causing your family and friends to worry.

To prevent this:

  1. Share information on common Snapchat scams with your family.
  2. Walk your parents or grandparents through how to spot red flags, such as accounts requesting money, personal info, or unusual demands.
  3. Emphasize that they should always verify any concerning claim through other channels before acting.
  4. Share Scamio with them and show them how it works so they don't get deceived.


Q: How can I report a suspicious account on Snapchat?

Snapchat provides an in-app reporting feature that allows you to report concerning content, inappropriate behavior (like harassment), and scams to their Trust and Safety team. Simply tap the "Report" button on a Snap, Story, or account. Snapchat says they take action on reports within two hours to minimize potential harm.

Q: What should I do if my Snapchat account gets hacked or compromised?

If you suspect your Snapchat account has been hacked or compromised, there are a few signs to look out for:

  • Being locked out of your account
  • Spam sent from your account
  • An alert about someone logging in from a different location, IP address, or device
  • New contacts added without your permission
  • Someone changing the email or phone number associated with your account

If you notice any of these, you should report the compromised account to Snapchat. A representative will need to verify your identity, but they will never ask for your password or My Eyes Only passcode.

Q: How can I prevent my Snapchat from getting hacked?

To prevent your Snapchat from getting hacked, enable two-factor authentication using an authenticator app for an extra layer of security. Don't accept random friend requests from strangers. Be wary of any messages claiming to be from the Snapchat team about account issues - this is a common scam tactic. Use a strong, complex password and update it regularly. Avoid clicking suspicious links, even if they appear to come from friends whose accounts may have been compromised. Finally, keep your associated email address and phone number up-to-date in case you need to verify your identity.



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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