Celebrity Scams and Social Media

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The internet thrives on the public’s interest in celebrities. It is no wonder then why scammers and hackers use celebrities’ identities in order to lure unsuspecting consumers into their traps.  It seems as though a celebrity’s status can be measured on whether or not they have had a scam posted using their name.  You’re nobody until someone runs a Facebook scam about you.

Most recently, Lady Gaga had not one, but two of her social networks hacked in an effort to get her fans to download malware onto their systems.  First, Gaga’s Facebook account was hacked and posts appeared offering giveaways of iPads to her fans. Once that mess had been cleaned up, the superstar’s Twitter account was hacked and her followers were presented with the same opportunity to receive a free iPad. Alas, Lady Gaga was not to be so generous to her “little monsters” (as she calls her fans) and her accounts were rectified and the scams revealed.

Right behind the attention paid to celebrities is that of untimely deaths.  When these two collide, as they did with Amy Winehouse last year, there is bound to be a flurry of social media scams to follow.  In the case of the untimely death of Ms. Winehouse, it was the posting of supposed videos taken just hours before her death, which spread like wildfire around Facebook.  Disclaimers such as “Warning: Graphic Content” and “Material not suitable for those under 18” only made the salacious content more desirable to users and the videos lasted for weeks on the social networking site.

Justin Bieber is no stranger to seeing his name used in connection with a scam.  Beiber has had a major scam campaign on both Twitter and Facebook this year.  Justin’s Twitter followers are some of the most hardcore “Beliebers” and hang on his every tweet. It was no surprise that the promise that they would be followed by Beiber had many users clicking links and downloading malware by the droves, this past year. Unfortunately the promise was a scam and the pop star’s fans were left without a follow from Justin and a with computer full of malware.  Prior to the Twitter scam, Facebook was the target of a Beiber scam when posts began to surface including news that Bieber had been stabbed by a crazy fan.  The initial posts were followed by links to a supposed video of the attack.  Once again, users who attempted to access the story or the video were left disappointed and infected with malware.

These celebrity scams show no signs of going anywhere soon.  As long as consumers show increased interest in the lives and deaths of ‘The Beautiful People’, scammers will continue to use references to them in order to exploit consumers.  So remember, think twice before clicking on links and remember that if something seems too good to be true, than it probably is.

 

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Nikki Junker

Nikki Junker is Social Media Coordinator and Victim Advisor at The Identity Theft Resource Center. She specializes in Identity Theft on social networks and smartphones. She enjoys working one on one with victims of identity theft as well as researching and writing about preventative measures for consumers.