Instagram fake product scams: How to detect and prevent fraud

By Emily Andrews

Updated Sep 17, 2020 at 04:25 PM

Reading time: 3 minutes

What are Instagram fake product scams?

There are plenty of scams out there but a lot of people assume that on Instagram they are safe from phishing scams and the like. Because of the fact that people feel like Instagram is a very official and moderated platform, it is easy to get sucked in by the scammers.

What is the strategy of fake brand accounts?

Fake brand accounts mimic the look of a legitimate brand account and market ‘products’ via their own profile or by using the sponsored posts section of Instagram. Effectively, they are trying to sell you a product that is either not what it seems, or it simply never comes at all.

Steps

What steps do these scammers take to draw people in? What are the methods of the fake brand accounts to look out for?

Promises about exclusive discounts

A lot of fake brand accounts will offer exclusive discounts or huge savings that you would not get on the high street. They are able to do this because they are either not going to send a product to you at all or because any product they do send will be counterfeit. They might have a small print to say that the product is a replica, but a lot of the Instagram accounts that will scam you are ‘burner’ accounts so they don’t care if they get banned in a week or two, as long as they make sales.

Phishing emails

Some ads might request that you make your own profile on their site, or of course, they will ask you to sign up to place an order. This means that your details can be vulnerable. The scammers can collect details they don’t really need, and use these to try and scam you in other ways such as phishing scams which compromise your logins for other accounts.

Things to watch out for

How can you ensure that you are alert and vigilant and don’t get scammed yourself? What do you need to watch out for when you see an advertisement and think it might be a potential scam? How do you even spot a post that might not be trustworthy?

How to avoid fake brand accounts

What are the best ways to avoid fake brand accounts? You should always do a little bit of research before buying something, especially if it seems like you are getting an amazing deal. Remember the rule that if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Record searches

You can check public records in order to find fake brand accounts. You can use keyword public records searches to find out who is behind the social media accounts, searching by email addresses, keywords and any other details you have. If the name and branding of the Instagram account itself looks untrustworthy and unprofessional then this could be another sign something isn’t quite right.

Don’t share specific location data

Don’t compromise your location as some scammers can use this against you, and people who are involved in identity fraud can get a bigger picture from the location data. NBC news estimates that there are 65 million posts fraudulently posted each and every month on Instagram. Many of these are just trying to make a quick buck but some might have other plans to steal your information.

Be careful with personal details

Your personal details should be protected at all costs. All too often, people freely and simply throw out their personal details on whatever site people request them. This can be extremely dangerous. Though there are methods in place to try and safeguard people, not all websites abide by them, and scammers definitely won’t protect your personal details, instead, they may use them against you for identity fraud or other scams.

If you use the same password for an account you have made to try and get an Instagram discount, the scammers can often use these details to try and access other accounts you have made, and this can lead to them getting more than just a few dollars that you are spending on a discounted product.

Scammed on Instagram: What to do next?

What are your next steps if you have been scammed?

Report the scam

You can report the scam to ensure that it doesn’t happen to others, either through public records sites, Instagram’s own report function or your country’s government’s website, which allows you to report all sorts of different scams that might be dangerous to others. Follow this link to make a report in the US.

Claim the money back (if you can)

If you have paid on a credit card then you might be able to file a complaint and try and get your money back. If you used Paypal, a similar claim function exists but for this reason, a lot of scammers won’t accept Paypal.

Keep On Reading

By Abby Amoakuh

Online adoption ads prey on pregnant women in actions reminiscent of the Baby Scoop era

By Abby Amoakuh

Sabrina Carpenter’s music video for Feather gets priest fired from his church

By Abby Amoakuh

Trump’s gag order paused as Biden secures more pandas from China

By Abby Amoakuh

Grand Theft Auto 6 leak reveals game’s first female protagonist and a glimpse into franchise’s future

By Charlie Sawyer

5 celebrity breakups that emotionally wrecked us in 2023

By Abby Amoakuh

Travis Barker’s ex-wife takes jab at his relationship with Kourtney, calls Kardashians disgusting

By Charlie Sawyer

Dwayne Johnson revokes Joe Biden endorsement. Wait, is The Rock running for president?

By Charlie Sawyer

How much is the morning after pill and why are we still paying for it?

By Abby Amoakuh

Vivek Ramaswamy sucks up to Trump, Biden tries to win back Black voters and Giuliani files for bankruptcy

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

UK medics told not to report illegal abortions to police due to women being wrongly prosecuted

By Abby Amoakuh

Pro-suicide website finally blocked by broadband providers after being linked to 50 deaths in the UK

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Archaic Missouri law denies pregnant women the right to divorce, even in cases of domestic violence

By Abby Amoakuh

Ballerina, beauty queen and Mormon: Who is Ballerina Farm owner, Hannah Neeleman?

By Charlie Sawyer

McDonald’s, Chick-fil-A, and Starbucks: Getting involved in political conflict is just a fast food thing

By Jack Ramage

Is your boss tripping on acid? New research suggests so

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

QAnon conspiracy theorists claim Iowa shooting was a political coverup for Jeffrey Epstein scandal

By Louis Shankar

Nex Benedict’s tragic death proves the US and UK have learnt nothing about inclusivity in schools

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

UK police left children at mercy of grooming gang paedophiles, review finds

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Spanish woman to become first person ever to marry AI hologram

By Charlie Sawyer

M&S pulls Christmas advert post of burning hats after being called out by pro-Palestine supporters