Watch Out For Telegram Scammers | The New Wave Of IM Scams
Watch Out For Telegram Scammers | The New Wave Of IM Scams
Telegram was launched in 2013 but didn’t see widespread use until recently. Up until then, the only real advantage that Telegram had over traditional messaging platforms was the fact that messages were more private, you could add thousands of people to a group chat, and you could send full-sized image and video files.
All great features, of course, but not enough to result in mass adoption…
However, during the protests of 2020, US police openly admitted to hacking into cell phone users’ SMS messages to attempt to arrest protestors before they attended an event or prevent an event altogether.
While most tech-savvy people had long suspected that governments and law enforcement agencies were monitoring their private phone messages, this was the final straw that convinced more people to switch over to secure, encrypted messaging apps like Telegram.
While Telegram has a host of benefits that make it an excellent messaging platform, many of these same benefits are also exploited by scammers who use the platform to lure in and target unsuspecting victims.
In today’s post, we’re going to explain why more scammers are using Telegram and show you all of the top Telegram scams of 2021, so you’ll know what to look out for.
Why Scammers Use Telegram
So, why are so many scammers using Telegram? You’d think with the sheer number of messaging apps out there that Telegram wouldn’t be such a hotbed for scamming. However, Telegram has several notable features that make it very attractive to illegitimate individuals, including:
1. Anonymity: For one, Telegram allows its users to remain almost completely anonymous. All you need is a working mobile phone number to create a new Telegram account. Smart scammers use “burner phones,” which are cell phones that are pre-paid in cashed and then discontinued when the scam is complete.
This means that the scam can never really be traced back to the person who started it, unless they get sloppy and start re-using old numbers or use a phone number associated with a credit card.
2. End-to-End Encryption: Secondly, Telegram is one of the few messaging platforms that offers true end-to-end, zero-knowledge encryption. This means that the content of your private messages is encrypted between the individuals involved. No third parties (hackers, government, law enforcement, etc.) can read the contents of the messages.
The encrypted messages also use a zero-knowledge hashing protocol, which means that even Telegram can’t read the messages sent!
While this is great for privacy, it means that you’ll never have any solid proof that you were scammed, and law enforcement will never be able to obtain a subpoena for the messages sent and received.
3. Telegram Payment Bots: Telegram has a neat feature that allows chat owners to create payment “bots” that are capable of sending and receiving payment. While many Telegram users use this to operate legitimate businesses or send money to friends and family, scammers may use this as a fast, easy method to receive irreversible payment for their scams.
4. Rinse and Repeat: Snce it’s so easy to create new Telegram accounts and no personal verification is required, the scammers can easily delete an old Telegram account once they’re finished scamming you and create a new account to run a new scam with.
Doesn’t Telegram Show Users Location, Though?
If you’re a more experienced Telegram user, then you may be thinking, “Doesn’t Telegram show users’ locations, though?”
Using the People Nearby feature, Telegram users can view the general location of local Telegram users they’re connected with (providing the user on the other end has location services turned on). You may think that this would cut down on the number of scammers, right?
Well, think again.
Smart scammers use high-speed VPN services to mask their IP address, which can make it appear as if they’re located in an entirely different location. Although most people use VPNs such as NordVPN or ProtonVPN to remain safe from hackers and snoopers, the same technology can also be used by scammers to mask their true identity.
For example, a scammer in India could set their VPN to display that they’re located in Atlanta, Georgia in the USA. This could be used to build trust with Atlanta locals who would be more willing to trust a neighbor… before they’re scammed, that is.
Top Telegram Scams of 2021
Here are the top telegram scams of 2021 that you should be on the lookout for.
Stimulus Check Scams
This is a BIG one right now. With the holidays around the the corner and the new delta-variant of COVID-19, some people are beginning to feel renewed financial pressure. While the United States Congress has been discussing the possibility of a new round of stimulus checks, a verdict has not yet been reached.
So, if you see a message from anybody on Telegram claiming to help you get a new stimulus check, don’t trust it.
Cryptocurrency Investment Scams
Bitcoin and the entire cryptocurrency market have exploded over the past year. A lot of new investors are eager to get into the market before they’ve actually had a chance to research it and understand it themselves.
Scammers love to prey on newbie crypto investors, claiming that they have “insider knowledge” on good trades and upcoming investments. Many may even offer to invest your money for you if you just give them a percentage.
More often than not, though, almost all of these so-called professional investors are frauds. As soon as you give them a small amount of cryptocurrency or money, they’ll take it and run.
Forex Investment Scams
Just as there are crypto “experts” who claim to be able to triple your money, there are just as many forex (foreign currency exchange) “experts” claiming to do the same thing. We’re not saying that you can’t make money by investing in forex; however, you should either learn how to do it yourself or invest through an accredited financial institution. Never give your hard-earned money to random “account managers” on Telegram.
Low-Cost Items Scams
Remember how we mentioned that some scammers are using VPNs to mask their location? Well, this is often done by scammers who are claiming to sell hot items at a lower-than-usual price. For example, a scammer who appears to be located in your city may be offering a new iPhone at a great price.
They agree to meet up with you and request a deposit via Telegram. Since it looks like they’re a local seller, you agree. Then before you know it, they’ve taken your money and run away with it.
How To Prevent Yourself From Getting Scammed On Telegram
As a general rule, never, ever send money to anybody on Telegram. Unless they’re your friend or family member, there’s a 95% chance that they’re a scammer.
Also, as a disclaimer, we didn’t write this post to talk trash about Telegram. The app itself is an amazing messaging app, with tons of cool features. In terms of privacy and anonymity, it doesn’t get too much better than Telegram!
However, bad people can also exploit these privacy benefits for the wrong reasons. So, the moral of the story is to just be smart about how you use the platform and make sure you never send money to people you don’t know.