Scammers have once again taken to Twitter in an attempt to fraudulently make money. Here’s how this recent scam worked…
When Frances and Patrick Connolly decided to go public with their £115 million windfall, I’d hazard a bet they didn’t expect being impersonated online was one of the consequences.
The lottery-winning couple said they’d drawn up a list of about 50 people they’d share the jackpot with.
Fraudsters, who’ll do anything to get their hands on your cash or data, saw an opportunity.
Within a week, someone set up a Twitter account pretending to be Patrick Connolly and said they’d randomly select 50 people to give a chuck of the money to once their YouTube channel got to 10,000 subscribers.
In just a few short days, they amassed almost 44,000 Twitter followers and more than 4250 YouTube subscribers.
As soon as we found out about the scam, we reported it to Twitter but it took at least three days for the account to be taken down, only for another account to spring up.
This time the fraudsters targeted students and gave the assurance this account was the Connollys’ genuine account – they claimed the other Twitter handle was a mock account.
That account has since been shut down.
But what’s the point of it all: why would someone go to all that work in setting up these accounts, tweeting and retweeting all in the effort of gaining followers?
Why else? Money.
Cash for followers
I had a quick look online and found people flogging Twitter accounts for hundreds of dollars.
One offering was an account with 27,000 followers and aged 2010 all for the tidy price of $700USD.
Read more: our six tips to spot a social media scam
Another with 115,00 followers and aged 2009 was on offer for $300.
Once you’ve bought the Twitter account and get given access to it, it’s very easy to change the handle to whatever you like (as long as it’s still available) – a quick way to win a following of a new enterprise.
Twitter makes it very clear in its rules – you are not allowed to sell your account.
You’re also not allowed to username squat which is where someone will set up an account with the handle of a celebrity or company or the like and sit on it until they come to want to claim their own name back.
But even though Which? saw the fake Patrick Connolly account, it took days for it to be taken down. Do you think this was fast enough? What about other social media companies, have you spotted other types of this sort of scam?