What Were the Most Common Snapchat Scams of 2022?
With close to 300 million daily active users — most of them teenagers and young adults — Snapchat is one of the most popular social media apps. But its popularity has made it a prime target for cybercriminals, hackers, and scammers.
Snapchat scams lure victims into giving up money, sharing personally identifiable information (PII) that can be used for identity theft, and sending revealing photos to use for blackmail and extortion.
The worst part? Snapchat users only have to be 13 years old to create an account. If you or your family uses Snapchat, you need to be aware of the platform’s most common scams (and how to avoid them).
What are Snapchat Scams? How Do They Work?
Snapchat scams are fraudulent schemes originating or taking place on the platform that allow scammers to steal your sensitive information or trick you into sending them money.
Snapchat scammers interact with users and often pose as someone they know and trust. They might also engage in phishing attacks to steal PII or take over their account and use it for further scams.
Law enforcement agencies have charged Snapchat scammers with everything from hacking and identity theft to extortion, forgery, harassment, and computer crimes involving children.
Scammers flock to Snapchat (and other social media sites) because they make it easy to create fake accounts. So how do you know if a Snapchat account is real or a scammer?
How To Tell A Fake Snapchat Account From a Real One
Like Instagram, Snapchat has its fair share of social media influencers, so separating “real” accounts from scammers can be difficult. But the best way to avoid Snapchat scams and prevent identity theft is to flag scammers before they can come try to scam you online.
Here are a few things that can help you separate a real from a fake account:
- Check their Snap score. This will show if they’re actively using the platform. If they claim to be an influencer and have a Snap score of just a few hundred, it’s likely a scam.
- Look at the Snap map. Does their real-life location match what they say in their profile?
- Search their profile/story photos in Google image search. Scammers will steal images from other sites and use them for their fake accounts. Upload a photo to Google image search to see where it came from.
- Check if they have a Bitmoji. A Bitmoji is the cartoon avatar by a person’s name. Because it’s so common for Snapchat users to have these, it can be a red flag if an account isn’t using one.
- Think about what they’re asking you. If a random account adds you and starts asking for “help” or sending you strange links, you should probably block them. This also goes for your friends. If someone you know starts sending you strange messages, contact them on a different platform and ask if everything’s OK.
Fake accounts often feature attractive models and people flaunting cash, luxury goods, and sports cars. But never forget the golden rule of fraud prevention: “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”
The 7 Most Common Snapchat Scams
- Posing as a friend who needs help with their account
- Offering a fake opportunity to make money
- Pretending to be a friend who needs money or a check cashed
- Phishing scams leading to account takeovers
- Snapchat romance scams
- “Sugar daddy/momma” scams
- Snapchat girls and premium account scams
Like many emerging cyber threats, the goal of a Snapchat scam is almost always to take over your account.
Once they get access, they can lock you out and demand cash, Bitcoin, gift cards (known as carding), and more. So how do scammers try to get access to your account?
1. The friend who needs help with their account scam
According to Snapchat, social engineering attacks, such as impersonation, is the number one way hackers take over an account on their platform [*].
In this scam, hackers pretend to be one of your friends who needs help recovering their account. They’ll ask for your account login information, so they can look through your Friends List to “remember” their Snapchat username.
Give them access to your username and password, and they’ll take over your account.
💡 Related: How To Recover a Hacked Instagram Account →
2. The fake opportunity to make money scam
If your friend’s account gets hacked or scammers find their login information on the Dark Web after a data breach, they can pretend to be them. Scammers know you trust your friends and are more likely to open and trust their messages.
In this scam, your friend’s hacked account will message you about an “advertising gig” or influencer sponsorship on Snapchat. They say they already made hundreds or thousands of dollars, and you can too.
All you have to do is send them a deposit (cash, Bitcoin, or gift cards) to cover the cost of signing up. Then they’ll disappear as soon as they receive it.
Other times, scammers will ask for your login information to “set up” the sponsorship or “promote” the advertising opportunity for you. Then they’ll take over your account. They’ll also start posing as you to repeat this scam to everyone on your Friends List.
Check to see if a recent data breach gave hackers access to your personal information on the Dark Web with Aura’s Leaked Password Scanner →
3. The friend who needs money or a check cashed scam
Hackers can also use your friends’ account to ask for money.
They’ll make up a story that tugs on your heartstrings, such as their dog got hit by a car and needs surgery. You, being a good friend, send them the money. Then the scammer disappears.
Alternatively, hackers pretending to be your friend may sometimes ask you to commit bank fraud by cashing a check for them. They’ll send you a photo of a check to mobile deposit into your account. You’ll then give them the money from the check in cash, Bitcoin, or gift cards.
However, the check turns out to be fraudulent, so it bounces and never clears in your account. You’ll be out all the money you sent this friend and have to pay the bounced check fee at your bank ($35 to $45).
💡 Related: The Latest Social Media Scams (and How To Avoid Them) →
4. Phishing scams leading to account takeovers
In a phishing scam, hackers create and send scam emails that look identical to real emails from Snapchat. They may also send text messages (known as smishing).
These messages contain a link to “log in” to your Snapchat account using fake reasons like:
- Your account has been compromised
- Your photos will be deleted or leaked if you don’t click the link
- You won a sweepstakes or contest and need to verify your identity
- You’ll have access to special content or discount codes
- You’ll receive something valuable, like concert tickets, Amazon gift cards, etc.
Unfortunately, when you click the link to log in to your account, you won’t be logging into Snapchat. This dummy site may look like Snapchat, but it’s just a way for scammers to collect and steal your username and password.
💡 Related: How To Stop Spam Texts (on Android and iPhone) →
5. Snapchat romance scams
Because Snapchat posts disappear, the platform’s become a popular site for online dating and hookups. But this also means scammers have turned to Snapchat to start running romance scams.
Some of the more common Snapchat romance scams include:
- Meeting on dating sites (like Tinder) and asking to talk on Snapchat. If you connect with a scammer on a dating app, they’ll often ask to move the convo to Snapchat (this is especially common in military romance scams). They’ll start asking for explicit photos/videos and then threaten to release them if you don’t share more.
- Snapchat catfish scams. A catfish is someone who pretends to be an attractive person online. These scammers trick victims into thinking they have a genuine romantic connection, then start asking for money, gift cards, photos, etc. They may also request access to your account to “prove” you’re not flirting with other people.
- Snapchat meetup scams. Users who don’t block their location are vulnerable to Snapchat meetup scams. Here, attractive Snapchat accounts reach out to users and say they want to meet up in their area. They'll ask you to pay for their gas or a bus ticket. But the scammer never shows up for the date. They may provide an excuse and schedule a new date, stringing along the victim for even more money before they disappear.
It's fine to look for a connection on sites like Snapchat. But there's no reason to send money, cryptocurrencies, or your credit card numbers to someone you've only met on social media.
💡 Related: How To Avoid the "Pig Butchering" Scam Costing Victims Millions →
6. “Sugar Daddy/Momma” scams
A sheriff’s office in Ohio reported that several teenagers were recently targeted on Snapchat as part of a sugar daddy/momma scam ring [*].
A sugar daddy or sugar momma is an older person who reaches out to a younger user (known as a “sugar baby”). The daddy/momma asks the baby to send picture or videos in return for money, gift cards, or presents.
There are three ways this scam usually plays out:
1. They ask for upfront payment first
The scammer will tell the victim they need to either “cover” the cost of shipping the gifts or money transfer fees. Sometimes they’ll demand this payment as a “proof of loyalty.” Once the sugar baby pays, the sugar daddy/momma disappears.
2. They demand your bank account information
They’ll claim they want to deposit funds into their account. But in reality, the scammer just empties the account.
3. They send you money and ask you to send some back
They’ll give the sugar baby $1,000, for example, using a fraudulent check or gift cards purchased with stolen credit cards.
Then they’ll ask the sugar baby for $100 back in gift cards as a token of appreciation or to buy their next present. The sugar baby sends the gift cards, then discovers the daddy/momma’s check bounced, or the gift cards don’t work.
💡 Learn More: Why Scammers Want Gift Cards (and How To Avoid Gift Card Scams) →
7. Snapchat Girls and Premium Account scams
Though not an official feature, scammers will set up what’s known as a Premium Snapchat Account featuring Snapchat Girls.
These accounts promise to share exclusive adult content with subscribers who make a one-time payment using Venmo or Cash App or sign up for an account on a different website with their credit card, debit card, or bank account information. But any money or information you provide goes straight to the scammer.
💡 Related: Did You Get Scammed on Cash App? Here's What To Do →
How To Shut Down Snapchat Scammers
Snapchat scammers are getting more creative, which means you may be involved in a scam that’s similar but not identical to the ones we just highlighted.
If you think you’re being scammed, look for the warning signs of identity theft, such as accounts asking for:
- Your login information
- Money, gift cards, altcoins, etc.
- Photos and videos of you
- Other personally identifiable information (your location, pet’s name, birthday, etc.)
- Your friends’ PII
Once you believe you’re being scammed, follow these steps:
Use the in-app reporting feature and block suspicious accounts
Snapchat’s In-App Reporting allows users to report concerning content, inappropriate behaviors (like harassment), and scams to their Trust and Safety teams. Just tap the “Report” button on a Snap, Story, or account.
Once reported, Snapchat says their team takes action in under two hours to minimize the potential for harm. Check out the Quick-Guide to Snapchat Reporting for more information. You can also block Snapchatters, so they can’t contact you or view your content.
💡 Related: Were You Scammed on Venmo? Here's How To Get Your Money Back →
Report your compromised or hacked account
When a Snapchat account has been compromised (also known as “hacked”), it means that it’s been accessed by someone who is not authorized to use it.
Signs your Snapchat account may be hacked or compromised include [*]:
- Being locked out of your account
- Spam sent from your account
- An alert that someone logged into your account from a different location, IP address, or device
- New contacts added to your list without your permission
- Someone changing the mobile number or email address associated with your Snapchat account
Report the hacked account to Snapchat. A Snapchat rep will need to verify your identity but never ask for your password or My Eyes Only passcode.
How To Prevent Snapchat Scams
- Be suspicious of all links and QR codes in messages, even if they come from your friends (whose accounts may be hacked) or a lookalike Snapchat email. For added security, consider using antivirus software. This will automatically block malware and other malicious viruses for you.
- Never add strangers to your Friends List or accept unknown friend requests, even if they claim to be someone you might know.
- Text, email, or call your friends if you see sketchy behavior. Let them know their account may have been hacked.
- Never share your login credentials or trust threatening messages claiming to come from Snapchat. Snapchat will never leak your images or ask for your password or My Eyes Only passcode.
- Always create a strong password to prevent scammers from hacking into your account. Use a unique, hard-to-guess combination of at least 10 upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Don’t reuse this password for anything else. To help you keep track of these long passwords, consider a password manager.
- Set up Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) - but not SMS. 2FA makes your Snapchat more secure by sending a unique code to your device anytime you log in. However, hackers can bypass SMS authentication if they get access to your phone. Instead, use an authenticator app like Okta or Google.
- Adjust your privacy settings. Limit who can send you Snaps, view your Stories, see you in Quick Add, and find your location on Snap Map. Consider turning on Ghost Mode, so no one can see where you are.
- Keep your email and phone number associated with your account updated. This will help verify that your account belongs to you if you ever lose access to it.
These security tips ensure you and your teen can still have fun on Snapchat without putting their identity or your financial information at risk.
💡 Related: Is Identity Theft Protection Really Worth It? →
Protect Your Family from Snapchat Scammers
You now know the most common Snapchat scams to avoid. Follow today’s tips to safeguard your account and try to have regular conversations with your teens about safe Snapchat practices.
To protect your loved ones from family identity theft, consider Aura’s family protection plans.
You’ll get military-grade encryption to stop criminals from accessing your online activity and also block potential scam or phishing sites that can steal your personal or financial information and lead to identity theft.
And if the worst happens, all Aura accounts are backed by 24/7 customer support and up to $1 million in coverage for eligible losses due to identity theft.