Fraud via social media: Influencers who promote criminality
Scams

Fraud via social media: Influencers who promote criminality Scams

Stock photo of a man in a demin jacket lookig at his phone

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There is a new kind of social media influencer. They promote fraud, not clothing and lifestyle brands. __S.4__

These people flaunt large sums of money, conceal their identities, and even sell guides to help them commit fraud.

These scammers with their illegal products and services would seem difficult to locate. However, this is no longer the case.

I was part of an investigation by BBC Panorama and discovered how simple it is to deal with fraudsters online. One anonymous seller of them was also revealed.

Social media makes it sound more innocent than it is.

However, fraud can result in up to 10 year imprisonment. According to the police service Action Fraud, it is when a person uses trickery to obtain a financial advantage over someone else.

Methods are the name given to guides that have been traded.

These criminals can attack retailers, banks and government agencies, as well as the Universal Credit system. This leaves organisations and the general public in the dark.

They all depend heavily on fullz, which is slang for complete information.

This is the information about an unconnected individual: usually an individual’s name and phone number.

Fraudsters will have the fullz to follow the instructions in these guides in order to purchase online or take out loans in another person’s name.

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Panorama: Hunting the Social Media Fraudsters is on BBC One at 19:35 BST on Monday or later on iPlayer

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What is the secret to these personal details being circulated?

These emails often originate from phishing scams. You can think of the phishing scams that send out phony text and email messages to con people into disclosing their private information.

These fraudsters may sometimes conduct or commission phishing activity themselves or get the information from others.

Exercising someone’s “fullz”, such as making purchase using their information, can damage their credit score. Bad credit scores can impact your ability to get a loan or mortgage or open a bank account.

One fraudster was advertising on social media. I reached out to him through messaging apps and he offered me to create a fake site and to send 4,000 phishing messages on my behalf in order to obtain people’s details. He charged PS115.

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Scammers use terms

  • methods – tips on how to commit fraud
  • fullz – short for full details. This pertains to your personal banking information, e.g. You can have their wholez
  • clicking – fraudulently purchasing products from online retailers

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A different Instagram account showed me that a fraudster had uploaded some “fullz”, which was a kind of free sample encouraging people to pay for more stolen information. I called some of those numbers.

As I shared my names, address, and card information with strangers, it was hard to watch their reactions.

Later, I met Wilson, an Oxford victim, and he said that seeing his personal details online made it scary. It also helped him realize how vulnerable he was.

Hence, why isn’t there more of these people being caught?

Jake Moore, a specialist in cybercrime says that investigators face a difficult task to locate the perpetrators.

He says that anonymized accounts leave behind more than a few breadcrumbs for people to look into them. There are none. They have no digital footprint. This makes it almost impossible to find out.

Being an influencer means that you share some aspects of your life online. Over time however, many influencers have left too many clues.

Tankz is his name and he raps online as Tankz. He boasts that he’s a London scammer. It’s there, it is mine, and I just click it.

He also sells fraudulent guides or methods.

Tankz messaged me via Instagram, posing as someone who is interested in fraud. His top guide was for PS100.

The link was sent to 43 files via social media and it arrived in the form of a hyperlink.

These files contained detailed instructions on how to abuse online retailers. The files also provided links to sites where criminals could buy fullz.

We were interested in finding out the identity of this fraud-influencer.

Panorama examined footage Tankz had posted to social media and discovered that he was giving away too many details while trying not to be identified.

We noticed a reference made to Wembley in north London as his area of residence, mentions of studying finance at university and even a peek of his car number plate.

Another clip featured a black-and-grey-colored carpet. We were also able to match it on a Wembley website that advertised student accommodation.

The car was on the street so we went there and waited. We saw the man approaching the car in the same tracksuit Tankz was wearing earlier that day on social media.

Left: a photo of Tankz in a blue tracksuit, right: a photo of a man in a black tracksuit that BBC Panorama believes may be Tankz

YouTube/BBC

The masked fraudster was unmasked, but we didn’t know who he was.

Although his social media posts were anonymous, we found that Apple Music also had his songs. One of his songs has the copyright not listed to Tankz but to Luke Joseph, which seems to be his true name.

The email didn’t end there. An email from Tankz’s office address contained a reference to that name in it. Even an eBay account was created under Tankz’s name, with Luke Joseph as the contact address.

We discovered that the person with the identical name lived in Wembley’s same student housing block. Tankz could be Luke Joseph, a London student.

We reached out to Tankz and Luke Joseph but didn’t receive a reply.

After Panorama alerted them, the social media platforms removed his Snapchat, Instagram and TikTok accounts.

He has since created another TikTok account, where he posts about his daily life.

What are authorities doing to combat online fraud?

The government announced plans earlier this year to cut down on illegal and damaging digital content. The government wants Ofcom, the communication regulator to regulate social media to make sure that big tech companies are held accountable.

Fraud-related material was originally not intended to be part of this Online Safety Bill. However, the government made a change at the very last moment. Although the word fraud is not yet included in this Online Safety Bill, it may be covered under what the bill calls “illegal content”.

Some are concerned that the solution won’t address the issue.

Arun Chauhan is a fraud specialist solicitor who believes the bill does not serve its purpose in fighting fraud.

Panorama was told by a spokesperson for the government that the law will “increase people‚Äôs protection against scams”, and they would continue to pursue fraudsters and close down any vulnerabilities they exploit.

We were told by TikTok and Twitter that they do not permit fraud on all their platforms.

They stated that fraud was something they take very seriously, and are constantly looking for criminal material.

It is not clear if they are able to take it down quicker than the posting.

Panorama: Hunting the Social Media Fraudsters is on BBC One at 19:35 BST on Monday or later on iPlayer

Publiated Mon, 16 August 2021 at 08:39:17 +0000

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