Hundreds of Scam Pages Uncovered in Major Investment Fraud Campaign
Researchers are warning of a major global investment fraud campaign that uses social media advertising to lure unwitting victims into handing over their money.
Group-IB said it uncovered nearly 900 scam pages associated with the campaign, 60% of which targeted users from the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region. It estimated losses between March and June 2023 alone to be $280,000.
Once a victim clicks through on a Facebook ad they’ll be taken to a scam investment page. Most of these impersonate legitimate financial and insurance companies (30%) and brands from the transportation (25%), stock trading (9%), oil and gas (5%), and construction (5%) sectors.
Some ads apparently claim that investors could earn millions from a deposit of just $200.
The scammers will request name, email address and phone number from the victim. If they send this information, they will be emailed an account number, login information, password and server name for their purported trading account, Group-IB said.
If the victim doesn’t deposit money into the platform, they will receive a phone call from a ‘customer service representative’ who will try and pressure them into doing so. The scammers apparently request bank card details, place of residence, ID and passport details.
Once a deposit is made, these representatives stop communicating, and if a refund request is made the victim will be blocked on whatever messaging platform they’ve been using, Group-IB explained .
“Retail investing is becoming increasingly popular among individuals who are looking for ways to diversify their income, but this has created opportunities for cyber-criminals to exploit this trend. This particular scam is notable as the cyber-criminals leverage multiple communication channels, such as email and direct phone calls, as part of their social engineering efforts,” said Sharef Hlal, head of Group-IB’s digital risk protection analytics team, MEA.
“Investment scams have the potential to cause great financial damage to victims, given the potential large sums of money involved, and we urge individuals to never share personal information or money with third parties unless you are certain of their legitimacy.”