Snapchat Scams: Don’t Fall for These 7 Insidious Scams.
How do Snapchat scams work? Learn how to spot a fake account, what to do if you’re getting scammed, and how to protect yourself (and your kids), today.
With close to 300 million daily active users — most of them teenagers and young adults — Snapchat is one of the most popular social media apps. But its popularity has made it a prime target for cybercriminals, hackers, and scammers.
Snapchat scams lure victims into giving up money, sharing personally identifiable information (PII) that can be used for identity theft, and sending revealing photos to use for blackmail and extortion.
The worst part? Snapchat users only have to be 13 years old to create an account. If you or your family uses Snapchat, you need to be aware of the platform’s most common scams (and how to avoid them).
Snapchat scams are fraudulent schemes originating or taking place on the platform that allow scammers to steal your sensitive information or trick you into sending them money.
Snapchat scammers interact with users and often pose as someone they know and trust. They might also engage in phishing attacks to steal PII or take over their account and use it for further scams.
Law enforcement agencies have charged Snapchat scammers with everything from hacking and identity theft to extortion, forgery, harassment, and computer crimes involving children. Scammers flock to Snapchat (and other social media sites) because they make it easy to create fake accounts.
Like Instagram, Snapchat has its fair share of social media influencers, so separating “real” accounts from scammers can be difficult. But the best way to avoid Snapchat scams and prevent identity theft is to flag scammers before they can come try to scam you online.
Here are a few things that can help you separate a real from a fake account:
Fake accounts often feature attractive models and people flaunting cash, luxury goods, and sports cars. But never forget the golden rule of fraud prevention: “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”
The goal of a Snapchat scam is almost always to take over your account. Once they get access, they can lock you out and demand cash, Bitcoin, gift cards (known as carding), and more.
Here are some of the most common ways that scammers can gain access to your Snapchat account:
According to Snapchat, social engineering attacks, such as impersonation, is the number one way hackers take over an account on their platform [*].
In this scam, hackers pretend to be one of your friends who needs help recovering their account. They’ll ask for your account login information, so they can look through your Friends List to “remember” their Snapchat username.
Give them access to your username and password, and they’ll take over your account.
If your friend’s account gets hacked or scammers find their login information on the Dark Web after a data breach, they can pretend to be them. Scammers know you trust your friends and are more likely to open and trust their messages.
In this scam, your friend’s hacked account will message you about an “advertising gig” or influencer sponsorship on Snapchat. They say they already made hundreds or thousands of dollars, and you can too.
All you have to do is send them a deposit (cash, Bitcoin, or gift cards) to cover the cost of signing up. Then they’ll disappear as soon as they receive it.
Other times, scammers will ask for your login information to “set up” the sponsorship or “promote” the advertising opportunity for you. Then they’ll take over your account. They’ll also start posing as you to repeat this scam to everyone on your Friends List.
Hackers can also use your friends’ account to ask for money.
They’ll make up a story that tugs on your heartstrings, such as their dog got hit by a car and needs surgery. You, being a good friend, send them the money. Then the scammer disappears.
Alternatively, hackers pretending to be your friend may sometimes ask you to commit bank fraud by cashing a check for them. They’ll send you a photo of a check to mobile deposit into your account. You’ll then give them the money from the check in cash, Bitcoin, or gift cards.
However, the check turns out to be fraudulent, so it bounces and never clears in your account. You’ll be out all the money you sent this friend and have to pay the bounced check fee at your bank ($35 to $45).
In a phishing scam, hackers create and send scam emails or text messages that look identical to real emails from Snapchat.
These messages contain a link to “log in” to your Snapchat account using fake reasons like:
Unfortunately, when you click the link to log in to your account, you won’t be logging into Snapchat. This dummy site may look like Snapchat, but it’s just a way for scammers to collect and steal your username and password.
Because Snapchat posts disappear, the platform’s become a popular site for online dating and hookups. But this also means scammers have turned to Snapchat to start running romance scams.
Some of the more common Snapchat romance scams include:
It’s fine to look for a connection on sites like Snapchat. But there’s no reason to send money, cryptocurrencies, or your credit card numbers to someone you’ve only met on social media.
A sheriff’s office in Ohio reported that several teenagers were recently targeted on Snapchat as part of a sugar daddy/momma scam ring [*].
A sugar daddy or sugar momma is an older person who reaches out to a younger user (known as a “sugar baby”). The daddy/momma asks the baby to send picture or videos in return for money, gift cards, or presents.
There are three ways this scam usually plays out:
Though not an official feature, scammers will set up what’s known as a Premium Snapchat Account featuring Snapchat Girls.
These accounts promise to share exclusive adult content with subscribers who make a one-time payment using Venmo or Cash App or sign up for an account on a different website with their credit card, debit card, or bank account information. But any money or information you provide goes straight to the scammer.
Snapchat scammers are getting more creative, which means you may be involved in a scam that’s similar but not identical to the ones we just highlighted.
If you think you’re being scammed, look for the warning signs of identity theft, such as accounts asking for:
Once you believe you’re being scammed, follow these steps:
Snapchat’s In-App Reporting allows users to report concerning content, inappropriate behaviors (like harassment), and scams to their Trust and Safety teams. Just tap the “Report” button on a Snap, Story, or account.
Once reported, Snapchat says their team takes action in under two hours to minimize the potential for harm. Check out the Quick-Guide to Snapchat Reporting for more information. You can also block Snapchatters, so they can’t contact you or view your content.
When a Snapchat account has been compromised (also known as “hacked”), it means that it’s been accessed by someone who is not authorized to use it.
Signs your Snapchat account may be hacked or compromised include [*]:
Report the hacked account to Snapchat. A Snapchat rep will need to verify your identity but never ask for your password or My Eyes Only passcode.
These security tips ensure you and your teen can still have fun on Snapchat without putting their identity or your financial information at risk.