Instagram is Being Used for an Old Fashioned Kind of Thievery

Banking fraud, particularly the kind which relies on stolen account information, has been around for a very, very long time. People would post as traders or bank representatives and convince people to give them cheques. Later, people started setting up similar schemes over the phone, and then by email. Now, it's moved on to the next logical stage - social media.

In this case, it's Instagram. Three Pennsylvania residents have been convicted of creating accounts using graphics and logos from known banks, and then convincing hapless victims to participate in a scheme. Said scheme involved cashing fraudulent cheques with banks and building societies, enabling the three of them to steal money.

The trio have been under investigation since February, and eventually they were caught when they tried to pull the same trick on a group of undercover officers. They explained the plan to them, asked them to create accounts and then get caught trying to withdraw money from said accounts. The court date is still being figured out but all three have a very long laundry list of crimes on their rap sheets now. Fraud isn't one crime, it's a combination of many, each with its own charge and conviction.

It might be tempting to point out that any legitimate financial service is highly unlikely to contact you through Instagram, but scams like these don't target tech savvy people, and there are a lot of younger people on Instagram who might not understand that it's better to avoid the mysterious DMs telling you that they will make you rich.

Criminals like this tend to follow the action, and as mass communication has evolved, so have they. Telephone scammers still operate, as do emailers, although at this point both of them are laughably played out (Nigerian prince, anyone?). Social media fraud is a lot more dangerous and it's only getting more common. Antiquated schemes like this are one thing but there are a lot of much smarter, much more resourceful people out there with a far better handle on how to swindle people using Instagram, Facebook or whichever platform seems most suitable.

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