Snapchat is one of the most popular social media apps, with over 428 million daily active users. The disappearing messages and fun filters make Snapchat a fun way to stay connected with friends and family. However, like any social platform, Snapchat also attracts scammers looking to take advantage of unsuspecting users. In this comprehensive guide, we‘ll cover the 8 biggest Snapchat scams to watch out for in 2023, along with expert tips to keep your account safe.
1. Celebrity Impersonation Scams
One common scam on Snapchat involves fake celebrity accounts that direct message users asking for money. The fake celebrity may claim it‘s for charity, an investment opportunity, or another made-up reason. Some warning signs that it‘s a phony celebrity account include:
- Aggressively messaging you out of the blue asking for money or personal information
- Poor grammar, spelling or word usage you wouldn‘t expect from a celebrity
- Asking you to send funds through unusual methods like gift cards
If a celebrity reaches out asking for money or sensitive information, it‘s almost certainly a scam. Legitimate charities or business opportunities won‘t cold message Snapchat users soliciting funds. Be wary of any unsolicited messages, no matter how convincing the account seems at first glance.
2. Fake Prize and Lottery Scams
Another trick scammers use is pretending to alert you that you‘ve won a contest, sweepstakes or lottery you never entered. They may say you need to pay a fee to claim your prize or provide personal information to verify your identity. In reality, they‘re fishing for banking details and other personally identifiable info.
Some red flags of prize and lottery scams:
- You‘re asked to pay an upfront fee via gift card, wire transfer or cryptocurrency to claim the prize
- They insist you need to "act now" or risk forfeiting the prize
- You‘re asked for sensitive information like your Social Security number or bank account details
- The prize is abnormally large, like millions of dollars, for a contest you never entered
As with celebrity scammers, if you‘re contacted out of the blue about a sweepstakes prize, it‘s safest to just ignore or block the account rather than engaging further. Legitimate contests won‘t require you to hand over money or personal details to collect winnings.
3. Fake Investment Scams
Investment scams are all too common on social platforms like Snapchat. A scammer may pretend to be a financial expert or successful investor, promising guaranteed returns if you invest in a cryptocurrency or other asset. They often pressure you to "act fast" before the opportunity disappears.
Some things that should raise red flags about investment offers on Snapchat:
- Promising unusually high, guaranteed returns with little to no risk
- Pushy about investing right away or you‘ll miss out
- Asking you to pay in cryptocurrency or gift cards instead of traditional payment methods
- Refusing to provide detailed information about their company or investment opportunity
Anyone can pretend to be an investment expert on social media. Never send money or personally identifiable information to someone promising investment returns on Snapchat. Legitimate investment opportunities won‘t cold message people urgently demanding funds.
4. Phony Charity Scams
Snapchat is also prime ground for fake charity scams. A scammer may pose as a charity employee or volunteer, asking for donations to help sick children, veterans or another sympathetic cause. They may even send photos of children in hospitals to support their story.
Before donating via Snapchat, watch for:
- High-pressure tactics insisting you donate right now
- Requests for unusual payment methods like gift cards or cryptocurrency
- Poor grammar, spelling or word usage
- Refusal to provide info like the charity‘s EIN or mailing address
If you want to donate to charity, it‘s best to independently look up their official website rather than trusting a social media solicitation. Many scammers exploit charitable causes to prey on people‘s generosity.
5. Sextortion Scams
Sextortion has unfortunately become very common on Snapchat over the last few years. A scammer will pretend to be a romantic interest they met on a dating site or app. After building some trust, they convince the victim to send nude photos or engage in cybersex.
The scammer records or screenshots the encounter, then threatens to send the explicit content to the victim‘s friends and family if they don‘t pay a ransom. This leverage of blackmail makes the scam particularly sinister.
You can avoid sextortion attempts by being wary of:
- Romantic interests who quickly steer conversations in a sexual direction
- Requests to engage in cybersex or exchange nude selfies, especially early in your interactions
- Any threats to release photos, videos or conversations if demands aren‘t met
Never exchange intimate media with someone you don‘t know and trust. While sextortion scams are terrifying, you should not pay the ransom, as this incentivizes criminals to continue blackmailing.
6. Romance Scams
Romance scammers prey on people looking for love and companionship. After building a relationship over weeks or months, they ask their victim to send money for various made-up reasons – emergencies, medical bills, travel costs, business needs.
Some signs you may be caught in a romance scam:
- They profess love quickly without ever meeting in person
- They‘re vague about their job, location, family/friends or other personal details
- They always have an excuse why they can‘t meet or video chat
- They ask you to wire money or send gift cards to help them out of various jams
Never send money to someone you only know online, even if you‘ve developed feelings for them. Many scammers play the long game in cultivating an emotional connection before requesting funds. If your online sweetheart starts needing financial help, it‘s probably a scam.
7. Fake Verification Scams
Some scammers will hack a Snapchat account, then pose as Snapchat Support and message the user saying they need to "verify" their identity to regain access. The scammer may request login credentials or personal information to "confirm" the account owner‘s identity.
In reality, Snapchat would never message users out of the blue demanding sensitive information. Here are some clues it‘s a fake verification attempt:
- They initiate the contact claiming your account is compromised
- Poor grammar, spelling or word usage
- Requests for your password, Social Security number, bank details or other sensitive info
- Threats to delete your account if you don‘t verify your identity
Snapchat Support would only reach out if you contacted them first about account issues. Be very wary of any unsolicited messages claiming to be from Snapchat and requesting personal or account information.
8. Pay for Premium Scams
Some scammers masquerade as Snapchat employees and offer to upgrade your account to "Snapchat Premium." This gives the illusion of accessing exclusive features. To upgrade, you just need to send a one-time fee via gift card, bank transfer or another untraceable method.
In reality, Snapchat doesn‘t have a premium version. Anyone claiming to sell an upgrade is a scammer after your money or account info. Here are some red flags:
- Aggressive sales tactics pushing you to upgrade your account immediately
- Requests for unusual payment methods like wire transfers or cryptocurrency
- Poor grammar, spelling and word usage
- Threats to delete your account or remove followers if you don‘t pay
Don‘t trust any offers to upgrade Snapchat accounts in exchange for payment. Report the account immediately. If you gave banking information or other sensitive details, contact your financial institution about recourse.
How to Stay Safe on Snapchat
Now that you know the most prevalent Snapchat scams, here are some tips to keep your account secure:
- Avoid connecting with strangers – Don‘t add people you don‘t know, which makes you a potential target.
- Use strong privacy settings – Limit who can view your Stories and Snap Map location.
- Don‘t use your full name – Use a nickname rather than your real name, which makes you harder to scam or stalk.
- Review account settings – Disable Quick Add to prevent random adds. Turn off location sharing.
- Ignore suspicious links – Don‘t open links sent from strangers that could contain malware.
- Beware friend requests from models/influencers – Beautiful strangers often prey on followers.
- Turn on Login Verification – This requires entering a code to access your account on new devices.
- Avoid adult content accounts – Explicit accounts frequently scam followers.
- Never send intimate photos – Provocative images can be used for blackmail.
- Report suspicious accounts – Notify Snapchat if an account seems phony.
- Avoid contests/giveaways – These often phish for personal info under the guise of prizes.
Staying vigilant is the best way to avoid Snapchat scams. Report any suspicious activity and be cautious sharing personal details or interactions with strangers. With hundreds of millions of users, Snapchat is filled with potential targets for fraudsters. Following basic precautions preserves the fun of Snapchat while keeping your account secure.
What To Do If You‘re Scammed on Snapchat
If you believe your Snapchat was compromised or you fell victim to a scam, here are some important steps to take:
- Contact Snapchat – Report the issue to Snapchat Support immediately so they can investigate.
- Reset your password – Even if you weren‘t hacked, change your password to something unique and strong.
- Enable two-factor authentication – Adding 2FA makes it much harder for scammers to access your account.
- Remove any suspicious friends – Delete any contacts who you think may have been involved in scamming you.
- Run a virus scan – In case of malware, scan your devices with up-to-date antivirus software.
- Place fraud alerts – If your personal info was compromised, set up fraud alerts with credit bureaus.
- Monitor your credit reports – Regularly check reports to catch any signs of identity theft early.
- Freeze your credit – Stop scammers from opening accounts in your name by freezing credit.
- Report to the FTC – File a report with the Federal Trade Commission to aid investigations.
- Seek legal counsel – For serious cases of fraud or identity theft, consult an attorney.
Documenting the scam and reporting it both to Snapchat and relevant authorities are crucial steps if you‘ve been victimized. Acting quickly helps limit the damage and prevents the scammers from targeting more innocent users.
Snapchat Scams – The Bottom Line
Snapchat provides fun ways to share moments with friends, family and followers. Unfortunately, scammers flock to popular apps to exploit unsuspecting users. The most dangerous Snapchat scams involve phishing for login credentials, bank details and other sensitive information.
Stay vigilant for common techniques scammers use, like posing as celebrities or Snapchat employees. Build your scam radar by looking for poor grammar, requests for unusual payments and high-pressure claims of emergencies. Avoid connecting with strangers, limit personal info shared, and report any suspicious accounts.
If you were scammed, act swiftly to lock down your accounts, monitor your credit and alert the proper authorities. While no app is 100% scam-proof, following security best practices preserves the Snapchat enjoyment and connections you love, without compromising your privacy and finances.