Taking Back the ID

Identity thieves target social media influencers and college students in latest job scams

The FTC warns social media influencers and college students of job opportunities that are actually ploys to steal personal and financial information. Plus, identity thieves continue to scam people via work-from-home jobs and what you can do to avoid becoming a victim of these schemes.

Britney Smith was new to the world of Instagram influencers, but in the last six months she’d cultivated a strong following on the social media platform and garnered positive feedback on her outfits and lifestyle tips. With a strong base of support, Smith decided she was ready to expand her following and make some money in the process. So, it was rather serendipitous when she received an email from someone claiming to be a “brand ambassador manager” with one of Smith’s favorite fashion brands. The brand manager offered Smith what seemed like the opportunity of a lifetime: free clothing for her to model on Instagram and big payments if she tagged the brand’s clothing in her posts. But there was a catch — Smith would need to send them her bank account information before she could receive the clothing.

This story is fictitious, but it’s representative of the latest attempt by fraudsters to use job-related scams to steal people’s personally identifiable information (PII) and financial information. This time the targets are social media influencers seeking fame and fortune online. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warns consumers that fraudsters masquerade as “brand ambassador managers” for well-known companies and offer brand ambassador jobs with the promise of lots of money to promote their products online by showing and tagging them in social media posts. To accept the offer and receive the free products, all the potential victim needs to do is send the fraudster their PII — including their important banking information — that the fraudster says will be used to pay the influencer for promoting the products. But once the fraudster receives the victim’s banking information, they can wipe out the account balance. The scammer can then use the purloined PII for other fraudulent purposes. The game of fraud is endless. (See “Job scam targeting influencers,” by Larissa Bungo, FTC, Oct. 17, 2023 and “Influence peddling? Bogus ‘brand ambassador managers’ scam prospective influencers,” by Lesley Fair, FTC, Oct. 17, 2023.) 

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