If you spend any time on social media, it might seem like everyone is getting rich off of sure-thing investments—and posting to tell the tale. As a result, there’s a lot of attention on all kinds of business and investment opportunities. Unfortunately, fraudsters are increasingly targeting people by dangling the false promises of big returns with little risk. Knowing what to look out for can help you avoid these investment scams—and save you time and money.
Common investment scam tactics
Investment fraud can take on many forms. One common investment scam involves fraudsters sending out phony offers to people via email, instant messaging platforms, social media and even dating sites. Messages often include false promises, claiming that you can become an investor in a new company, technology or digital currency—all while guaranteeing high returns in a short amount of time. When trying to protect yourself from financial fraud, you should also know that scammers research potential victims online in order to build a relationship with them based on common interests. When using this tactic, they might even take over the account of a friend. This strategy is often what makes these frauds seem so real—and so tempting.
In addition to using fake investing apps, fraudsters may also refer to legitimate trading platforms and investment options to avoid suspicion. In some cases, scammers will offer to set up an investment account for you on an actual trading platform. What you may not know is that the fraudsters are either creating a joint account or are keeping and using your credentials to access the money themselves. Scammers will also instruct victims to send them money, which is never to be seen again.
In many cases, they encourage those who are being scammed to recruit their friends and family, promising additional incentives for signing up others, much like a pyramid scheme. Something else to keep in mind: While these scams never ultimately pay out, there are instances when fraudsters pay their victims fake profits or returns to build trust. So, even if you’re initially making money, you could still be involved in a scam that may cause losses down the line. Watching out for guaranteed-profit investment scams can help keep you safe.
The warning signs of investment scams
Like many financial scams, those involving fake investment opportunities include offers that seem too good to be true, often guaranteeing that “get rich quick” incentive.
If you get a message from someone who is trying to get you to take immediate action, delete it in order to avoid falling victim to fraud. When someone is trying to get you to send them money and pressuring you to do so in a short time frame, it’s often a scam.
Fraudsters may also ask you to allow them remote access to your computer so they can set up an account on your behalf. They can then use that private account information to access your funds.
Another red flag to be on the lookout for: having someone ask you to make payments through social media. This is often a sign the transaction is fraudulent. For tips on investing wisely and avoiding fraud, visit the SEC’s website.
Recent investment frauds
Since many of today’s new scams involve social media and instant messaging platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram, they’ve become a more prevalent part of everyday life. As fraud continues to grow, it’s important to stay up to date and educated on the current investment scams that are taking place. You can learn more about some of today’s most common scams on the FBI’s website.
How to protect yourself from investment scams
As with any financial transaction, make sure you know, and trust, who it is you’re sending money to. Don’t send money to individuals you’ve never met. With many financial scams, once the funds have been sent, they’re unlikely to be recovered.
Don’t blindly follow posts or offers made to you through friends or influencers on social media. Their accounts could have been hacked, or they themselves may have fallen victim to a scam. When it comes to online security, you should always be cautious when receiving unsolicited ads or offers, and you should never click on links from individuals you don’t know.
While social media can be fun for exploring new opportunities, it’s important to exercise caution and think twice before sharing any information—or investing any money. Since fraudsters rely on gathering public data, keeping your personal information private can cause them to move on before taking advantage. And if you do believe you’ve been a victim of an investment scam, learn the steps you should take to report the fraud.
How to report fraud and identity theft to TD Bank
If you think your TD accounts or cards have been compromised, visit our Security Center to learn how to report the fraud and contact us for help right away.
- Lock your credit and debit cards
- Report a lost or stolen card:
- TD Bank ATM or Visa® Debit Card: 1-888-751-9000
- TD Bank Visa® Credit Card: 1-888-561-8861
- Report identity theft or a phishing attempt: 1-800-893-8554
- Forward suspicious emails to: Phishing@TD.com
- Contact your local police department or call The Federal Trade Commission (FTC): 1-877-382-4357
- Report fraud to the credit bureaus: