At Social Catfish, we have covered numerous scams that our users need to watch out for and have been victims of. Since Halloween is approaching, the scammers are still going to transform this spooky season into something frightening as they find a way to drain your bank account. Because of this, we wanted to compile 10 of the most spooky scams to watch out for in one article! Here are some of the most frightening Halloween 2020 scams you need to watch out for, and how to avoid them.
Top 10 Spooky Halloween 2020 Scams to Watch Out For
#10 Money Flipping Scam
With the money flipping scam, scammers know that people are desperate for money and will do whatever it takes to make more money. Scammers know this and have created the money flipping scam that is hard to resist. You receive a message, claiming that you can earn two, three… even ten times more money than you are earning now within minutes. All you need to do is send the scammer the requested amount of money via CashApp, Venmo, or another money transfer app and they will supposedly flip your money within minutes.
There have even been scammers that have asked for your bank account information so they can take the money out themselves… yikes! These scammers often have bad grammar, with missing words and misspellings. Once you send them the money, they take it and block you off of whatever social media platform they were using to message you.
How to Avoid: In these Halloween 2020 scams, don’t send anyone any money, even if they promise they can earn you even more cash. Don’t download anything or click on any random links that you aren’t used to, since these could all have malware that could infect your devices.
#9 Online Shopping Halloween 2020 Scams
Online shopping scams happen when scammers create fake websites that look like the online store you love, such as Amazon or Netflix, when they pretend to sell a product just to take your money and give you nothing in return, and when they trick you into alternative payment methods outside of the website you are purchasing from.
For example, in the video above, Georgie from Social Catfish talks about how scammers created fake websites and promised them a puppy in exchange of payment. The customer pays the scammer money and even sends more money to the scammer when emailed about shipping costs, but yet doesn’t receive their dog.
How to Avoid: If you’re purchasing an item or pet locally, meet with the seller in-person to examine your item or pet before purchasing it. If you went on a fake website that a scammer created, be sure to report it to the FTC and local law enforcement while educating your family members and friends about it on social media platforms, such as Facebook or Twitter. Also, contact your credit card company if you made the purchase on your card to get a new card number, and possibly your money back. If you don’t trust the website or seller, don’t make the purchase, and don’t use alternative methods of payment such as a wire transfer or gift card to another store.
#8 Work From Home Scams
A scammer posts a listing on Upwork, Indeed, or another job-listing website claiming to have a work-from-home opportunity for their victim. The victim sees this and applies for the job, hoping they get it to improve on their experience and finances. The scammer contacts them wanting to do an interview, but it’s not the traditional online video chatting interview we are all used to. They want to do the interview over Google Hangouts or Kik messaging, claiming that their “video camera is broken.”
They barely ask you any questions on Google Hangouts, other than some really private personal information such as your date of birth or social security number. They then ask for your address so they can mail you a check for a few thousand dollars. With this check, they instruct you to cash it and buy supplies for your new job. They also ask that you send the extra thousand dollars back to them, claiming that it was an “accident that they sent you the extra thousand dollars.”
However, what you don’t know is you just deposited a fake check in your bank and received the fraudulent cash to purchase your supplies. You also sent the scammer the rest of the money that they didn’t have before, but now they do thanks to the fraudulent check. The bank then goes after you and makes it your responsibility to pay them back the money you stole, since you were the one that cashed in the fraudulent check.
How to Avoid: If someone wants to interview you through any instant messaging app, that’s your first red flag. A legit business would want to get to know you, your personality, and your skill-set before hiring you onto their team, which can only be achieved through video chat, phone interviews, or meeting you in-person. Your second red flag would be giving them your address or any other personal information that could be used to commit identity theft against you. Your third red flag would be depositing the paper check they mailed you when businesses nowadays give you money via direct deposit into your account.
#7 Business Email Compromise (BEC) Phishing Scam
The BEC Phishing Scam, which also includes the invoice scam, happens when scammers send employees an email that looks like an official email address from that business. The email looks legitimate and makes a financial request that seems believable. These emails can ask for a number of things or can come up with a number of excuses as long as the scammer is provided with money.
Some of these excuses can include:
- Fake business invoices from a fake company that claims you ordered supplies from them.
- A scammer pretending to be a higher up in the company, making financial requests to their “personal accounts.”
- Needing gift card codes to send to everyone in the company.
- Impersonating your attorney.
- A scammer mimicking your boss’ voice as they call you and tell you to transfer them the money.
How to Avoid: Talk to your boss in-person before sending anyone any money. Show them any email or invoices that require payment and have your boss confirm it before sending the money to them.
#6 Stolen Pictures Scam
As seen on Social Catfish’s Famous and Catfished YouTube series, social media influencers’ pictures are stolen by romance scammers on a daily basis, and used to create fake social media profiles. They then talk to victims using these photos, making the victims believe they are actually the person behind the picture. They ask the victims for thousands of dollars in romance scams until their bank accounts are drained. Once they realize that their victims are out of money, they block the victim and never talk to them again.
The victims are so heartbroken and don’t realize that the scammer wasn’t actually the person in the photo. They find the real person’s actual account, and start accusing them of stealing their money and blocking them. They call them names, and yell at them even more once they realize that this person is actually married. What they don’t know is that this person has no idea what they are talking about, since they were also scammed out of their photos as well.
How to Avoid: If you’re not a social media influencer, set your account to private so that no one can steal your photos. If you are a social media influencer, put a logo or watermark on your images so that it makes it more difficult for scammers to use your picture as their own. If you’re a romance scam victim, avoid contacting the verified person who these pictures actually belong to, because most of the time they aren’t looking for love and are already married.
#5 Sextortion/ Premium Girls Scam
For the sextortion and premium girls scams, there are many different ways that scammers scam their victims out of money. In the sextortion scam, scammers email their victims stating that they have been watching them through their webcams when they watch porn. They threaten to send this video out to all of the victims’ family members and friends if the victims don’t send them the requested amount of money. Scared, the victim sends the scammer money even though there was actually no video recording in the first place.
For the premium girls scam, the girls set up an account on Snapchat or OnlyFans, and request that their victims pay to follow them on these social media platforms. On Snapchat, usually the girls block the guys once they receive their payment and don’t actually send any pictures to the guys that paid for it. In the OnlyFans scam, the girls tell the guys to send them more money and they will perform any special request they want. The guys send the money, and the girls never send the guys their special video.
How to Avoid: In these Halloween 2020 scams, don’t send anyone money for any reason, except when following someone’s official OnlyFans account on the actual website. If someone requests money off any app or they request more money through OnlyFans with nothing but empty promises, don’t send them any extra money. Report any threats to police officers.
#4 Phishing Halloween 2020 Scams
In a phishing scam, scammers email, message, or text their victims telling their victims to open these links for a variety of reasons. Once the victims open these links up, they are taken to fake websites that ask for their personal information and also contain malware. Once victims enter their personal information (and sometimes their financial information), scammers then use it to pretend to be their victims and apply for credit cards galore.
Some excuses scammers use for phishing attacks:
- 2020 Election, tricking you into thinking there’s such thing as digital voting.
- Click this link because you won money
- Businesses can pay for this order by clicking this link (BEC Phishing Scam)
- Click on this link to claim a free gaming code or free item on a video game on your PlayStation, Xbox, or Nintendo Switch.
- Click this link because you have a coronavirus stimulus check waiting for you.
How to Avoid: In these Halloween 2020 scams, avoid clicking random links in your emails from someone you don’t know. Even if you think that someone you know is sending you a random link, double-check the email address for any misspellings to confirm that it’s actually your friend’s, family member’s, or co-worker’s email address. Sometimes, scammers will misspell the email address slightly to fool you into thinking that it’s the person you know.
#3 Romance Scam
In a romance scam, scammers pretend to be someone they aren’t and message you on a dating app or social media site. They claim to want to get to know you better, and tell you sweet over-the-top things to get you to fall in love with them quickly. These things are usually copied and pasted from the scammer’s playbook, which contains all the romantic phrases that scammers say to their victims. In the Social Catfish YouTube series called Scamfish, we interview victims who have been romance-scammed to give our audience the opportunity to listen to their stories and learn from them.
Once they have you hooked on their love spell, scammers ask you for money gradually for tiny things, such as groceries or supplies. Then, they increase the dollar amount to where you’re paying for a work-related or personal emergency where they need thousands of dollars right away. They do this until they have drained your bank account, coming up with excuse after excuse, until it’s impossible to give them any more money. Then, they block you and leave once they have taken every single penny from you.
How to Avoid: When trying online dating apps, don’t become too serious with someone until you are able to video chat with them or meet them in person. Don’t give anyone you meet online any money for any reason because when they ask you for money online they are most likely scamming you. Don’t go on other messaging platforms, such as LINE and Kik, to message them.
#2 Identity Theft and Data Breaches
Identity theft is when a scammer steals your personal information, usually from data breaches, and uses this information to apply for credit cards and obtain your financial information. They can then spend as much money as they want to in your name until you report that you have had your identity stolen.
A data breach is when your log-in, personal, or financial information is stolen from websites that you have signed up for or from your email account. They can then use this information to commit identity theft, or gain access to your online accounts. Businesses can also experience data breaches as well since scammers steal their information to also gain access to their financial accounts and secrets.
How to Avoid: In these Halloween 2020 scams, don’t give anyone your personal information, because scammers can use this information to pretend to be you and steal your funds. Always use strong log-in passwords so that hackers can’t easily guess them, and use two-factor authentication when you can just in case they guess your password. Also, report any scam that you were a victim of.
#1 Cartel/Hitman Scam
In the hitman scam, scammers send out extortion emails and text messages to random people, pretending to be hitmen that were hired to kill you. They state that a random family member or friend hired them to “get rid of you,” but they offer to spare your life. However, the only way your life will be spared is if you send them thousands of dollars.
In the cartel scam, scammers call their victims up and threaten them to give them money. If they are threatening a business, they claim that they are surrounding the business and will attack everyone inside if they don’t get what they want. If its an individual person, they claim that they will hurt a family member or friend if they don’t get what they want. They will even pretend to be with said family member or friend, but if you called them you would realize they actually aren’t with them.
How to Avoid: In these Halloween 2020 scams, call local law enforcement if you’ve been threatened in any way to report the scam and help put an end to these scammers. Don’t reply to any threatening email or text message, since that will only entice the scammer to send you more threats. Hang the phone up immediately if you receive a threatening call and if you continue to get the call, block the number.
Social Catfish is Here to Help You With Your Spooky Halloween 2020 Scams
At Social Catfish, we want to help you verify the identities of those who have scammed you this Halloween 2020 scams season. If you have their name, email address, phone number, social media username, or image, you can reverse search and see who the scammer was that you’ve been in contact with when dealing with these spooky Halloween 2020 scams.