Have you ever been lucky enough to meet one of your favorite celebrities in real life? Running into your favorite baseball player or guitar player can be an experience of a lifetime.
I'll never forget the time I ran into Aerosmith at the Mall of America. They turned out to be super nice guys enjoying a cup of fro-yo on a hot summer day. (Yes, that actually happened.)
It's one thing to actually meet someone famous in person. It's a completely different experience meeting them online. In fact, there's a good chance that it's an imposter.
Celebrity imposters are overrunning social media
Imagine sending a message to your favorite celebrity on Facebook, Twitter, or another social media platform and actually getting a message in return. Talk about exciting!
But you really need to be careful. There are tons of scammers out there creating fake celebrity accounts. Why, you ask? Well, as always, they're after your money. And you won't believe just how many people are falling for these tricks.
One anonymous Chicago woman reached out to her local CBS news to tell her story. She thought that she had struck up a friendship with music legend, Bruce Springsteen.
They corresponded online for nearly a year. Towards the end, "Springsteen" told her that he was getting a divorce and all of his money was tied up in the court system.
The fraudster asked if she could help him out with some cash. She ended up sending him small amounts of money, around $500, three or four times.
Then he sent her a picture of a stack of gold bars, saying it was his and overseas. He just needed the money to have it shipped to the U.S. The woman wired him almost $12,000.
Only later did she find out that it was all a scam. She never actually was talking with Springsteen, just an imposter.
This is happening a lot nowadays. In fact, the Federal Trade Commision (FTC) said imposter scams was the number one complaint it received last year. Victims lost over $325,000,000 from these scams in 2017. Yikes!
That's why you need to know how to spot one of these scams. The first thing to look for on Facebook is the blue check mark. If there is an official Facebook page for a celebrity, it will be verified and have the blue check mark next to the name on the account. Keep reading to learn what to do if a celebrity contacts you on social media asking for money.
How to handle a celebrity's request for money
Since this is a common problem, the FTC has given the following suggestions on handling celebrity's requests for money.
- Slow down - Before you send money, talk with someone you trust.
- Do some research - Search online for the celebrity's name plus "scam." Do the same with any charity or cause they're asking you to support.
- Never send money, gift cards or prepaid debit cards to someone you don't know or haven't met - even "celebrities" you meet on social media.
- If you sent money to a scammer, contact the company you used to send the money (your bank, wire transfer service, gift card company, or prepaid debit card company.) Tell them the transaction was a fraud. Ask the company to reverse the transaction, if it's possible.
- Report your experience to the social media site and to the FTC. Click here to report it to the FTC.
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