This article was published on May 5, 2023

80% of our fraud scams come from Meta’s platforms, leading UK bank warns

Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp are a breeding ground for scammers

80% of our fraud scams come from Meta’s platforms, leading UK bank warns

TSB is urging consumers to remain wary of financial fraud on Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, as scams through Meta’s platforms are increasing at a worrying pace.

The UK bank analysed its internal customer fraud data between 2021 and 2022. It found that the Meta-owned sites and apps account for a whopping 80% of all scam cases within its three biggest fraud categories: purchase, impersonation, and investment fraud.

Facebook Marketplace is responsible for 60% of TSB’s purchase fraud cases, seeing a 97% year-on-year increase. Remember that vintage table you had to pre-buy because the seller was conveniently in the Bahamas, but swore to deliver upon their return? Yes, that was a scam.

The bank attributes Facebook’s high numbers to two main factors: minimal vetting of adverts and seller profiles, and the lack of an integrated payment platform that would support secure transactions.

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Meanwhile, impersonation scams — where ‘friends’ or ‘family’ in need ask for money — are soaring on WhatsApp, which has seen a 300% increase in 2022 and accounts for 65% of all cases. This is followed by Facebook and text messages at 13% each.

Meta’s platforms are also responsible for 87% of all investment fraud cases at TSB. The majority occurred on Instagram, which accounted for 67%. Facebook came in second at 22%, followed by non-Meta-owned Snapchat at 9%. The bank advises investors to be wary of social media “get rich quick” schemes, and stick to recognised investment platforms.

TSB’s findings follow the announcement of the UK’s new fraud strategy earlier this week, as the government is trying to fight back against the growing number of web- and phone-based scams. Fraud is now the most common crime in the country, costing nearly £7bn per year with 1 in 15 people falling victim.

Some of the measures include the ban of cold calls on financial products, new tech to tackle number “spoofing,” and reviewing the use of mass texting services.

The government is also requiring social media platforms to provide systems that will enable users to find a “report” button with a single click, and then a “report fraud or scam” button. Non-Meta-owned TikTok and Snapchat already offer this option for adverts.

“Social media companies must urgently clean up their platforms to protect the countless innocent people who use their services every day,” said Paul Davis, Director of Fraud Prevention at TSB. “ In the meantime, we are urging the public to remain cautious to potential scam content — and to spread the word to help protect those around you.”

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