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17 January, 2024
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18 min read

10 Snapchat scams and how to prevent them [2024]

Emma McGowan

Staff writer

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A man checks his Snapchat on his phone.

Snapchat scammers are skilled at tricking people into handing over their hard-earned cash. In this article, we’ll share strategies for identifying Snapchat scams and explain how you can use tools like LifeLock Ultimate Plus, which includes a social media monitoring feature, to help prevent identity theft attempts.

Snapchat is a social media app known for its multimedia messaging capabilities, silly filters, and interactive global map. With such a robust combination of features that allow people to stay connected with only a phone and Wi-Fi connection, it’s no wonder the platform has millions of users.

However, as the app attracts more users, it also attracts more scammers. In this article, we’ll tell you what you need to identify and avoid Snapchat scams.

What are Snapchat scams?

Snapchat scams cover all of the schemes cybercriminals use to defraud other users on the social media messaging app. Although, Snapchat scams aren’t exclusive to the app. You might also receive fake password reset, account verification, or message reminder communication over text or via email.

An example of a common Snapchat scam.

How do Snapchat scams work?

In Snapchat scams, a cybercriminal typically uses social engineering or phishing tactics to trick users into taking a specific action. Typically, this is how a Snapchat scam works:

  1. The scammer makes a fake account. Scammers will create accounts pretending to be someone people want to add, like a celebrity, a friend, or a love interest.
  2. They find people to talk to: Scammers will likely add everyone on their suggested friends list or search random usernames.
  3. They run their scam. They put together a scam to trick their Snapchat friends and subscribers into sending money or information. In some cases, they may even use the information they gather to steal your identity.

Who do Snapchat scams target?

Snapchat scammers will try to exploit anyone who replies to their messages or accepts their friend requests regardless of gender, race, age, or income. And since Snapchat has more than 576 million active users, cybercriminals have a large pool of targets to choose from.

10 common Snapchat scams

Snapchat scams can come in many forms, and all can result in embarrassment and lost money. Common Snapchat scams include romance scams, fake contest scams, imposter scams, account recovery scams, and others.

Here are a few of the most common scams to look out for, and strategies for bouncing back if you fall for an attempt:

1. Romance scam

A romance scam, also known as an online dating scam, involves tricking a person into believing they're in a romantic relationship with someone they met online. But in reality, the love interest is a catfish who assumes a fake identity to gain the trust of their target. Once they build a foundation of trust, the scammer begins asking for money and gifts, all while keeping their target at arm's length.

  • Tell-tale sign(s): Requesting personal information, requiring an entry fee, not publishing rules, and promising to-good-to-be-true prizes.
  • What to do: Report suspicious giveaways to Snapchat support so they can investigate and remove the post if it’s fraudulent.

If you suspect the person you’re e-dating is too good to be true, trust your gut and cut off the relationship. Or, if you need more proof, try running the pictures they send through a reverse image search tool and AI image checker to see if they stole or faked them.

2. Fake contest scam

Scammers sometimes create phony contests or giveaways to trick Snapchat users into believing they have a chance to win valuable prizes. In reality, these contests are designed to steal personal information and extort money from participants. In the end, no contest participant wins an award.

  • Tell-tale sign(s): Requesting personal information, requiring an entry fee, not publishing rules, and promising to-good-to-be-true prizes.
  • What to do: Report suspicious giveaways to Snapchat support so they can investigate and remove the post if it’s fraudulent.

To determine if a Snapchat contest is a scam, look closely at who’s hosting it. Most times, verified influencers or businesses will host contests. They also won’t ask you for money or overly personal information, and they’ll adhere to lottery and sweepstakes laws.

3. Imposter scams

In Snapchat imposter scams, cybercriminals impersonate people their targets will trust or look up to—usually a friend, celebrity, or business they like. Scammers do this to deceive and manipulate their targets, and they’re often successful because many young Snapchat users get carried away by their excitement. Once their target is invested in the hoax, the scammer can exploit their interest and convince them to send money.

  • Tell-tale sign(s): Sending unsolicited friend requests, writing spammy and misspelled messages, avoiding video calls, and using fake photos.
  • What to do: Look up the person’s profile to see if duplicate results appear. You can also use Snapchat’s “Friend Check Up” feature to easily remove spam accounts or anyone you’re not interested in talking to from your friends list. 

The best way to avoid getting duped in an imposter scam is to trust your instincts. If it doesn’t make sense that the person is messaging you, it’s probably not them. But if you’re unsure, check the sender’s profile information to make sure it aligns with the username and display name the person uses on other social networks. Also, if you believe you’re talking to a celebrity, check to see if it’s a verified account with a black star inside of a yellow circle.

4. Account recovery scam

An account recovery scam on Snapchat consists of scammers posing as official IT support agents. Scammers claim that a Snapchatter’s account was compromised and requires verification or a new password with greater security. When successful, they can riff off their original story and persuade users to share personal information like login credentials. Using these details, they can take over the Snapchat account and use it to scam others.

Alternatively, the fake support agent might try to convince their target that their account was locked and they can only restore it if they pay a fee. In cases like these, they will usually ask the account holder to make a payment with gift cards or through a payment service like PayPal.

  • Tell-tale sign(s): Sending unsolicited messages from Snapchat Support, requesting personal information, linking to unofficial web pages, and writing messages with poor spelling and grammar.
  • What to do: Only reset your password using official emails that you request yourself. Avoid opening support messages if you didn’t request assistance. 

Don’t open unsolicited messages or links from Snapchat support. Often, the company will send you updates from the official “Team Snapchat” account on the app. However, they won’t contact you via text, email, or the app about your account unless you ask for help.

5. Adult content scam

Sometimes called premium account scams, adult content scams on Snapchat usually involve an individual posing as an adult content creator. This “creator” is typically someone who stole another person’s pictures to sell suggestive, or sometimes explicit, images and videos. Although, in some cases, the intent is not to sell content, just to get someone to submit their payment details.

  • Tell-tale sign(s): Sending unsolicited friend requests, offering premium deals, writing spammy messages, sending suspicious links, demanding payment, and posting inconsistent content.
  • What to do: Report these scams to local law enforcement because they often foray into the world of fraud and other illegal activities. However, if you’re concerned about possible legal repercussions for engaging with an adult content creator, you can also consider speaking with an attorney about your options first. 

If someone adds you on Snapchat out of the blue and immediately starts sending provocative messages, images, or videos, and asking for money—block them. Legitimate adult content creators typically use an official channel or app and won’t ask you to send random payments via Snapchat. 

6. Employment and investment scams

In employment and investment schemes, scammers lure Snapchatters in by offering high-pay, low-effort opportunities. These scams usually involve an upfront start-up fee but don’t seem to have any substantial catches at first glance. But these often turn out to be multi-level marketing schemes (MLMs), fake investments, or non-existent jobs.

  • Tell-tale sign(s): Sending unsolicited job offers, trying to sell you MLM schemes, giving you bad financial advice, and promising you’ll make a lot of money fast.
  • What to do: Report employment and investment scams to many agencies, but you should start by notifying the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

To avoid getting tricked, slow down and do some research before applying, or worse, agreeing. Usually, you can simply Google the person’s or business’s name and look for reviews or any mentions of scams to gauge the offer's credibility.

7. Meet-up scam

Usually, meet-up scams are part of a larger romance scheme, but they can be applied to other scenarios as well. For instance, scammers might pose as talent agents, record producers, photographers, or even a friend to manipulate their targets. Regardless of the sham they concoct, scammers will try to use their targets’ emotions and aspirations to trick them into sending money without ever intending to meet up IRL. 

  • Tell-tale sign(s): Getting invitations from strangers, refusing to nail down meetup specifics, and requiring event goers to pay upfront covers.
  • What to do: Cut your losses and block them—never send them money for gas or transportation. 

If someone is asking you to meet up with them, whether it’s a friend or a professional, look them up on the internet and social media to make sure they are who they say. If you find them online, but their personality or writing style seems different from the person you’re talking to, reverse image search any photos they sent to see if they’re stolen.

8. Sugar momma or daddy scam

Faux sugar daddies and mommas often target younger people, promising to share their wealth for romance, companionship, or just out of the goodness of their hearts. Most times, these Snapchat scammers will adopt the persona of an older person to help sell the ruse.

  • Tell-tale sign(s): Sending unsolicited sugar baby offers, promising financial gifts but not following through, asking you to pay them first to cover processing fees, requiring you to give them bank account details.
  • What to do: Call your bank right away to stop unauthorized transactions. You should also file a report with your local police department. 

If you are looking for a situation like this, be wary of offers where they’re demanding personal information such as your bank account number or Social Security number (SSN).

9. Survey scam

In survey schemes, scammers might create a fake Snapchat account to pose as a legitimate business, celebrity, or influencer. Then, they can convince the people who subscribe to the account to fill out a survey for a chance to win a prize. However, when unsuspecting Snapchatters follow the link to fill out the survey, it usually takes them to an infected website.

Or, they might tell subscribers they must pay a fee to enter the contest. In these cases, the scammer usually collects the money and never makes good on their promise to deliver a reward.

  • Tell-tale sign(s): Guaranteeing impressive rewards, sending links to unverified websites, drafting messages with bad spelling and grammar, and badgering you to enter personal information into a survey.
  • What to do: If a survey is asking for too much information, just close it—no prize is worth the risk. And if the survey takes you off of Snapchat to a spoofed site, quickly close out, clear your browser cache, and reboot your phone. 

To keep scammers from stealing your personal information, only participate in surveys conducted by well-known companies or from a trusted sender. Remember that safe surveys will never ask for payment details or sensitive information about you. 

10. Charity scam

In charity scams, most Snapchat tricksters will create a fake account for a legitimate non-profit organization to solicit donations. In these cases, they will generally spoof a website so the scammer can divert funds into their personal account.

In other cases, an individual may pretend to collect donations for a worthy cause. These scammers usually ask their friends and followers to donate through payment services or crowdfunding platforms like Venmo, Cash App, or GoFundMe. Then, once they receive the money, they pocket it instead of sending it in.

  • Tell-tale sign(s): Requesting personal information to verify your donation, not having an official website, impersonating well-known charities, and asking for donations through gift cards or cryptocurrency.
  • What to do: In many cases, it’s difficult (if not impossible) to recover funds lost in charity scams. However, you can try to dispute the transaction with your bank, notify law enforcement, and file a complaint with the FTC to start the recovery process. 

Unknown and unverified Snapchatters asking for donations are often scammers. Be cautious of strangers with sob stories who say they will pass on the money you donate without providing more details.

How can you protect yourself against Snapchat scammers?

You can protect yourself from Snapchat scams by paying close attention to small details, especially when interacting with strangers and unfamiliar influencers. Here are some best practices to protect yourself from Snapchat scams.

  • Don’t open suspicious links or QR codes. Snapchat allows you to preview external links. So, before clicking, double-check the logo, business name, and URL to verify its legitimacy.
  • Block strangers who send provocative images. If someone is sending you suggestive messages with no introduction or context, it’s almost guaranteed that it's a bot or a scammer.
  • Hide your Snap Map location. Going ghost can keep scammers from stalking you or stealing your information to scam others.
  • Don’t accept friend requests from strangers. While some people do legitimately use Snapchat to make new friends, you should be wary about incoming friend requests from people you don’t know—especially if you don’t share any mutual groups or friends.
  • Use a strong password. Choose a strong password to prevent hackers from getting in and taking over your account. If you’ve already been scammed, consider resetting your password to prevent hacking attempts.
  • Don’t share your login information. Don’t give your login information to friends or log in to devices you don’t own unless you can guarantee that your password won’t be saved once you end your session.
  • Enable two-factor authentication (2FA). Set up 2FA on Snapchat to keep scammers out of your account even if your login details are compromised.
  • Don’t send money to people you don’t know IRL. Snapchat scammers will put a lot of effort into convincing you that they’re your friend and need help or that sending the money will benefit you in the long run.
  • Increase your privacy settings. By limiting who can view your snap story, view your location, contact you, and see you in Quick Add, you can prevent a lot of scammers from ever finding your account.
  • Don’t post personal information. It can be easy to overshare on platforms like Snapchat. However, you need to be careful about what you post so you don’t give scammers ammo to use against you. So, avoid posting your full name, location, and any personal identifying information where strangers or people who might not have your best interests at heart can see it.
A list of strategies Snapchat users can leverage to protect themselves from Snapchat scams.

Shield your device from threats

Don’t let money-hungry Snapchat scammers pull a fast one on you or steal your identity to trick others. Instead, use LifeLock to help protect your personal information and get reimbursed if somebody ever steals your funds.

When you’re ready to secure your accounts and devices, use LifeLock Ultimate Plus to help monitor your social media accounts, get real-time identity theft alerts, and stop account takeovers. 

FAQs about Snapchat scams

Still have some lingering questions about Snapchat scams? Here are some answers to the most commonly asked questions on the subject.

How can I tell if I’m talking to a bot or scammer?

It can be hard to tell the difference, but human scammers are better at personalizing their messages and responses. Bots, on the other hand, usually follow a set script, making their messages sound more canned and repetitive.

How do I report a scammer on Snapchat?

To report a Snapchat scammer, hold their Bitmoji on the “Chat” screen, select “Manage Friendship,” and click “Report.”

Is Snapchat safe for my kids?

Snapchat is appropriate for most teenagers 16 and up. However, mature preteens and younger teens often use the platform safely by following internet safety guidelines and with oversight from parents.

Can I monitor my kids’ Snapchat accounts?

Yes, you can use Snapchat Family Center to see who is on your teen’s friends list and who they’re talking to while respecting their privacy. The app also allows parents to limit the types of content that appear in Stories and Spotlight.

Are the text messages I get from Snapchat scams?

Yes, text messages that appear to be from Snapchat are typically scams. In most cases, the multimedia messaging app will send users push notifications or emails to communicate. Some users report receiving phishing text messages from “74843.” 

Editorial note: Our articles provide educational information for you. NortonLifeLock offerings may not cover or protect against every type of crime, fraud, or threat we write about. Our goal is to increase awareness about cyber safety. Please review complete Terms during enrollment or setup. Remember that no one can prevent all identity theft or cybercrime, and that LifeLock does not monitor all transactions at all businesses.

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