Picture this: You’re sipping your morning coffee, nestled in your favorite chair, scrolling through Instagram. It’s the usual spread — cat videos, foodies showcasing their avocado toast, and your friend’s 100th vacation pic.
Among these regulars is a picture you posted yesterday. It’s nothing extravagant, just a candid shot of the city park during sunset or maybe a quirky selfie you took with that vintage hat you found.
Then – ding! A message. An account with an artistic name featuring ethereal murals and vibrant canvases has DM’d you. They praise your photo and claim it’s perfect for their next project. Even better, they’re willing to pay for it. Your eyebrows raise. Your mind races. Money for that random pic? In an era where influencers reign supreme, could this be your golden ticket?
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SPAIN – 2022/04/25: In this photo illustration, an Instagram logo seen displayed on a smartphone on top of a computer keyboard. ((Photo Illustration by Thiago Prudencio/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images))
The bait and sketch
Here’s the twist: After discussing payment methods, the “artist” explains some past issues with international transactions. They ask for a “few minor details” to ensure a smooth process – primarily, your full name, the primary email linked to your bank, and your bank’s name.
This may sound benign. However, with these details, scammers can potentially initiate phishing attacks, spam emails, or even fraudulent requests that could put your finances at risk. While they might not directly access your funds, they could utilize this information to try and trick you further or deceive others.
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Moreover, banks typically have security protocols, including 2FA, to protect account holders. But remember, many scams hinge on manipulating individuals to bypass these securities willingly.
A scammer might not drain your account with just your email and bank name, but they’re making a start. And no, typically usernames and passwords aren’t provided at this stage, but once trust is established, who knows what a victim might reveal?
The mirage of deception
Some of these self-proclaimed art aficionados even send over checks that momentarily sparkle with legitimacy. They clear, and you might feel like you’ve just walked into a Monet sunrise. However, those checks bounce back quicker than a snap of Mona Lisa’s elusive smile.
You’re left stunned, perhaps thinking, “Was that check even real, or just another mirage in this desert of deception?” If you dare to pause or display a hint of skepticism, these scammers pivot, nudging you to wire funds via Venmo or CashApp – this should be a major red flag.
How to defend your digital canvas: steps to stay safe
Trust, but verify: Before getting swept up in the excitement of the offer, quickly search for the person or entity reaching out. Real artists or organizations usually have a digital footprint beyond an Instagram account.
Keep it close: Never, and I mean never, give out personal banking or identity details through DMs. If an offer seems too good to be true, it likely is.
Consult the experts: If you’re ever considering going into a transaction, consult with someone knowledgeable. A simple review from a trusted friend or family member can save you from a scam.
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Instagram app icon on an iPhone (Cyverguy.com)
Report and block: If you suspect a scam, report the account to Instagram and block them. It’s a digital world equivalent of showing them the exit door.
How to block someone on Instagram
Go to the Profile: Click on the suspicious user’s name to view their profile
Tap the Three Dots: Located on the top right corner of the profile page
Choose ‘Block’: You’ll see a list of options pop up. Click on ‘Block’ and then confirm. This will prevent the user from viewing your profile or contacting you
Oops, I fell for it! Now what?
Contact your bank: Inform them of the suspicious activity, and they can guide you on the following steps to protect your account
Change your passwords: Update passwords for accounts linked to the provided information. Make them complex and unique. Think about using a password manager to help you out. Check out my best expert-reviewed password managers of 2023 by heading to Cyberguy.com/Passwords
Activate two-factor authentication (2FA): It’s an extra layer of security that will stop hackers from accessing your accounts, even if they crack your password.
Monitor your accounts: Keep an eye on your banking and online accounts for any unusual activity
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Instagram app on an iPhone (Cyverguy.com)
Report the scam: Contact local authorities and also inform Instagram. Your report might just save someone else from the scam
Use identity theft protection: In light of the potential risks associated with the Instagram art scam, it is important to consider taking steps to protect yourself from identity theft. Theft protection companies can monitor personal information like your home title, Social Security Number (SSN), phone number, and email address and alert you if it is being sold on the dark web or being used to open an account. They can also assist you in freezing your bank and credit card accounts to prevent further unauthorized use by criminals. See my tips and best picks on how to protect yourself from identity theft by heading to Cyberguy.com/IdentityTheft.
How to report the scam
Head to their profile: Click on the username of the suspicious account.
Tap the Three Dots: These are in the top right corner.
Choose ‘Report’: A menu will appear. Select the ‘Report’ option.
Follow the prompts: Instagram will guide you through a few questions to understand the reason. For scams, you’d typically select ‘It’s spam’ or the option that best describes the suspicious activity you’ve encountered.
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Picture represents cybercrime (Cyverguy.com)
Kurt’s key takeaways
In the grand art gallery of Instagram, where every Joe, Jane, and their parakeet become overnight Monets, there’s a new kind of “artist” on the prowl. No, they’re not wielding paintbrushes, but rather, a palette of scams that could make even the Mona Lisa frown.
So, we’ve laid out a fancy tapestry of tips to keep those artful dodgers at bay. From the “trust but verify” waltz to the “block and report” tango, it’s a dance of digital self-defense.
But here’s the kicker: In a world where a cat playing the piano can be art, how do you keep your digital masterpiece (and your wallet) safe from these artful bamboozlers?
What’s your brushstroke of genius when navigating these murky waters? Share your masterpiece of a strategy by writing us at Cyberguy.com/Contact
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