Snapchat is a wildly popular app. Not only does it let you share photos and videos, you can be sure they vanish once viewed. This “new type of camera” has built-in filters, lenses, and multiple effects to make your instant messaging more fun. However, the app is associated with its own types of cyberthreats, and their number is growing.
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Young people are obsessed with social media tool, which in turn renders them vulnerable to all sorts of attacks. Millennials and subsequent generations are glued to their screens and suffer from nomophobia. We have to be connected 24/7, and communication in the virtual world happens more often than thoughtful in-person conversations. Hence, social engineers are now focused on these certain age groups, and there has recently been a rise in malicious activity observed on Snapchat.
- A scammer may pose as your “friend” and offer a “unique” chance to make money easily through some “advertising opportunity” or “sponsorship”.
- You are instructed to send a certain amount via gift cards so that such “advertising” would be paid for.
- The number of victims increases as the scammer manipulates each of them to invite their friends.
Usually, the first victim is no longer able to log into their account, so there is no way to warn others through the app. Until Snapchat tech support is notified, there is little you can do. The damage, therefore, is growing fast.
Such schemes have already been spotted in different states of the U.S., such as New York, Texas, Louisiana, and South Carolina. In one case, a victim lost thousands of dollars. Most targets are users between ages 18 and 29, which account for two-thirds of all Snapchat users.
The role of influencers
The power of so-called “influencers” is a major factor in the scammers’ success. On Instagram, it is an industry worth around $2 billion as of mid-2019. These users have their own personal brands, with established credibility and large groups of followers. Using their status, they promote products and services within their niche.
On Snapchat, companies find new customers by letting popular users tell their brand story. For example, they may hand their account over to a famous comedian for a few days. This explains why aspiring Snapchat influencers may take the bait masked as a “marketing opportunity”.
Be cautious when using Snapchat and other social media tools. Whenever you are asked for payments or login details, it is probably a scam. Block the suspicious user, delete their message and you’re safe.