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80% of our scams come from Meta’s platforms, warns a leading UK bank

TSB is urging consumers to remain wary of financial fraud on Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp as scams via Meta’s platforms are on the rise at a worrying rate.

The British bank analysed its internal customer fraud data between 2021 and 2022. It found that Meta’s sites and apps are responsible for a whopping 80% of all scams across the top three fraud categories: purchase, impersonation, and investment fraud.

Facebook Marketplace accounts for 60% of TSB’s purchase fraud cases, up 97% year over year. Remember that vintage table you had to pre-purchase because the seller was handy in the Bahamas but vowed to deliver upon your return? Yes, that was a scam.

The bank attributes Facebook’s high marks to two main factors: minimal scrutiny of ads and merchant profiles, and the lack of an integrated payment platform that would support secure transactions.

Meanwhile, the number of impersonation scams – where “friends” or “family” ask for money in need – is booming on WhatsApp, which has increased by 300% by 2022 and accounts for 65% of all cases. This is followed by Facebook and SMS at 13% each.

Meta’s platforms are also responsible for 87% of all investment fraud cases at TSB. The majority took place on Instagram, accounting for 67%. Facebook was second with 22%, followed by Snapchat which is not owned by Meta with 9%. The bank advises investors to be wary of get-rich-quick schemes on social media and to stick to recognized investment platforms.

TSB’s findings follow the UK’s announcement new fraud strategy earlier this week, as the government tries to fight back against the growing number of internet and telephone scams. Fraud is now the most common crime in the country, costing nearly £7 billion a year, with 1 in 15 people falling victim.

Some of the measures include banning cold calls on financial products, new technology to tackle number spoofing and reviewing the use of mass text messaging services.

The government also requires social media platforms to provide systems that allow users to find a “report” button with a single click and then a “report fraud or scam” button. TikTok and Snapchat, which are not owned by Meta, already offer this option for ads.

“Social media companies urgently need to clean up their platforms to protect the countless innocent people who use their services every day.” said Paul Davis, director of fraud prevention at TSB. “In the meantime, we urge the public to remain cautious about potential scam content — and to spread the word to help protect those around you.”

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