Scammers stealing real social media profiles, creating fake ones for profit

Local

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Scammers are taking photos and creating fake social media profiles that invite followers to pay for content.

Tomas Armendariz, FBI computer scientist in El Paso, warned of the new social media scam mostly targeted at students.

He said scammers will first follow the victim on Instagram, take inventory of their followers and then take photos of their victims to create a fake profile.

Armendariz explained that the deceiving Instagram profile will have victim’s name and will have a false description saying their old profile was deleted.

The scammer will block the victim, so they can’t see what they are doing with their photos, and then post a link to an Only Fans page, inviting the followers to subscribe.

Only Fans is a social media subscription site where content creators post photos, often of explicit content, and followers pay a subscription fee.

Anayancy Campos is a New Mexico State student with more than 2,000 followers on Instagram.

She said she keeps her profile on the public setting because she as an active YouTube account, so it makes it easier for other people to follow her.

“I woke up one morning and my phone was blowing up,” Campos said, explaining that her friends started messaging her when they saw a profile with her name and image promoting an Only Fans account.

Campos said she went to check the profile, but couldn’t access it because she was blocked.

Her friend then sent her screenshots that showed invitations to a fake Only Fans account under her name, saying this was her new real Instagram profile.

Campos asked her friends and followers on Instagram to report the profile so it would get taken down.

“First day it did get taken down around 3 p.m., but then the next morning it came back up,” said Anayancy, adding she also messaged and emailed Instagram administrators to try and shut down the account.

Armendariz says these Only Fans profiles are actually not even created on the real Only Fans website.

“Wicks.com is a free web building site and it’s easy to create a graphical interface. You can create a website on the fly and it’s easy to mock any website they want to create, such as Only Fans,” said Armendariz, sending out a warning for users to check the full web address of the site — it will usually have wix.com in it.

This false website mocks Only Fans and invites people to pay for a subscription, of which the scammer makes money.

Armendariz said that everything posted on social media can be taken without any repercussions for the scammer.

Unless the photos are protected by copyright or your profile has been hacked, this scam is not considered a cyber crime.

“You can put a brief description of yourself on Instagram saying ‘this is my only social media profile,’” suggested Armendariz, adding that if you do become a victim, report the fake profile and warn other users.

Instagram and other social media platforms have an immense number of users, so Armendariz says not to expect fast action.

He said it is up to every individual to protect themselves and set their profile privacy settings to private.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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