It’s Republic Day and it also means the best time to lure thousands of people with fake promotions via social media. While these kind of spam messages are limited to email and Facebook, the photosharing app Instagram seems to have fallen victim as well.
Fake pages have started on populating on Facebook-owned Instagram that lure Indians with promise of attractive giveaways on Republic Day. These pages claim that online retailer Amazon is offering Rs 9,000 as gift cards to its new followers, reports Economic Times. These pages also claim that Paytm is crediting Rs 4,000 to its users for every mention on Instagram while fashion portal Myntra owned by Flipkart is giving away vouchers worth for Rs 3,999 for sharing its page.
An Instagram page by the name of Amazongoindia has managed to attract 20,000 new followers within a week. The page claims to offer gift cards worth Rs 9,000 for the first time 30,000 followers on January 26. However, thousands of followers who like these pages end up waiting for their gift cards and e-vouchers. Most of these people are unaware that they have fallen prey to social media scam and have ended up liking fake pages.
According to cybersecurity researchers, these fake pages manage to add over 10,000 followers within a week using these scam messages and then rename the page and sell them for anywhere between Rs 2,000 and Rs 5,000 depending upon the number of followers. The researchers also note that the scamsters generally use names of e-commerce companies to attract new followers.
Paytm and Flipkart say that they have taken up the issue with Instagram and have requested to bank these fake pages. While Amazon did not comment on the issue, Instagram says it takes fake accounts seriously and will take necessary action against those violating its rules.
While users have started red flags about these pages, the scamsters have gotten better by pretending to be transparent about the giveaways on the pages. They post messages suggesting they are trying to reach all those who followed the page and are facing technical issues.
While users need to be cautious before liking such pages on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, the researchers say platforms need to get more vigilant about such fake accounts. One of the suggestion is to not allow these pages to change the username and URL of the account.