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Scammers are hiding out on social media, using ads and offers to market their scams, according to people’s reports to the FTC and a new Data Spotlight. In the first six months of 2020, people reported losing a record high of almost $117 million to scams that started on social media. People sent money to online sellers that didn’t deliver, to romance scammers, and for phony offers of financial help.

The biggest group of reports were about online sellers that didn’t deliver the goods. They were more than one-quarter of all reports about scams that started on social media in the first half of 2020. Next came reports of romance scams: about half of all romance scams reported since 2019 started on social media, usually on Facebook or Instagram. People also told the FTC about social media messages that pretended to offer grants and other financial relief because of the pandemic — but were really trying to get money, personal information or both.

Scammers can hide behind phony profiles on social media. They can take over an account or join a virtual community you trust to encourage you to trust them. But you can make it harder for scammers to target you:

  • Review your social media privacy settings and limit what you share publicly.
  • Before you buy based on an ad or post, check out the company. Type its name in a search engine with words like or “scam” or “complaint.”
  • If someone appears on your social media and rushes you to start a friendship or romance, slow down. Read about romance scams.
  • If you get a message from a friend about a grant or financial relief, call them. Did they really send that message? If not, their account may have been hacked. Check it out before you act.

If you spot a scam, report it to the social media site and the FTC at

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The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

  • We won’t post off-topic comments, repeated identical comments, or comments that include sales pitches or promotions.
  • We won’t post comments that include vulgar messages, personal attacks by name, or offensive terms that target specific people or groups.
  • We won’t post threats, defamatory statements, or suggestions or encouragement of illegal activity.
  • We won’t post comments that include personal information, like Social Security numbers, account numbers, home addresses, and email addresses. To file a detailed report about a scam, go to

We don't edit comments to remove objectionable content, so please ensure that your comment contains none of the above. The comments posted on this blog become part of the public domain. To protect your privacy and the privacy of other people, please do not include personal information. Opinions in comments that appear in this blog belong to the individuals who expressed them. They do not belong to or represent views of the Federal Trade Commission.

October 21, 2020
I'm embarrassed to have been scammed on Facebook buying shoes from a sham company in China or Taiwan advertising on the site. There are multiple companies of this type advertising there, & I learned, along with hundreds of others, not to buy products from the site. Doesn't Facebook vet their vendors?
October 21, 2020
I’ve had people try to log into my social media accounts. But I have really good protection software that alerted me and blocked them.
October 21, 2020
How do you help to get back money ppl lost?
FTC Staff
October 27, 2020

In reply to by Red1228

The FTC enforces consumer protection laws to stop illegal business practices and get refunds to people who lost money.

October 21, 2020
This is a good message. I was scammed last year. Had to close my checking account and open a new one; filed a police report and the same people called me back trying to do the same thing. I do not answer my phone because of this!
October 22, 2020
I've noticed increasing friend requests from handsome older- looking men on Facebook. When I look at their public FB page, it becomes clear we have no friends in common and there is very little other info. I do NOT friend them!
October 23, 2020
I was scammed by someone posing as LauraLee Bell reached out to thanking me for being a fan. We struck up a friendship for 6 weeks and we talked about meeting. Through her supposed Management company I got an invoice to pay before we meet for over $18,000. We had to communicate through google hangout, and described her day to day activities & family info, that seem relevant. But - I realized the management company was not a company, just a working email. Had no address where to send payment, a phone number that was v-mail account. Thank god - I did not send this money for something that was likely not going to occur. Also for a meet & Greet I thought 18,795 was pretty hefty. The person is still trying to convince me it is herself - LauraLee Bell, and her management company watches everything she does, and unable to even send me a quick picture of herself. She said I don’t get this money - it’s my management company. Now the person is using emotional strategies - about our close friendship. I am sure other fans or followers are being targeted and hope they don’t for it. I am amazed how a scammer can set up an email address under a celebrities name and have fraudulent Instagram accounts. But this is almost an emotional scam where a relationship is developed and then in order to meet to have to extraordinary fee.
October 30, 2020
I too was scammed on FB marketplace. Cashapp won't refund amount and on a separate scam, pll would not refund money. Not right as these scammed block you and keep reselling the items.
October 31, 2020
I have been scammed twice this year which has put me so far behind that I can’t breathe
March 19, 2021
I've had multiple people try to scam me.... they keep trying to get me to mail phones for them. Today I received 2 new iPhone 12 pro max phones!!!! I caught on pretty quick to what was happening since my grandpa was in the military and I have friends in the military as well.
September 17, 2021
I've just been friend request by a handsome guy called Wood Edward does this name ring a bell