Authorities in the United Kingdom have warned that there are Instagram posts that promote false “get rich quick” investment scams, and that the schemes have already tricked hundreds of people out of an average of about £9,000, according to reports.
Action Fraud, a U.K. awareness center led by police, said most of the victims were between the ages of 20 and 30, and that the total loss was around £3,168,464.
The fraud includes someone posting on a page promising “high returns within 24 hours,” Action Fraud said. The fraudsters will ask for an initial investment of £600, which the posters claim will multiply within a day.
The victims make the payments to a bank account, and then are sent screenshots of thousands of dollars in profit. However, the fraudsters say they need a fee to release the money.
“Victims have requested to withdraw their funds while they’re still in profit, and at this stage the fraudsters are stopping contact with the victim and closing the Instagram account,” Action Fraud said.
Inspector Paul Carroll of Action Fraud said users need to be diligent about avoiding scams like this one.
“Opportunistic fraudsters are taking advantage of unsuspecting victims who are going about their day-to-day lives on social media,” he said.
There are a few things to look out for to avoid scams and stay safe online.
“Never respond to any requests to send money, or have money transferred into your account by someone you don’t know and trust. These types of requests should always raise a red flag. If something feels wrong, then it is usually right to question it,” the organization said. “Don’t immediately agree to any offer that involves an advance payment or having to sign a contract on the spot. Always speak with a friend or family member first.”
If someone is wondering whether a financial institution in the U.K. is legitimate, they can look them up on the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) website.