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15 Telegram scams to watch out for

Scammers often exploit popular instant messaging apps like Telegram to steal users’ personal information and bank account details. In this article, we’ll look at 15 common Telegram scams and how to not fall into their traps.

15 Telegram scams to watch out for

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

What is a Telegram scam?

Telegram scams are malicious schemes that cybercriminals use to commit identity theft. These scams exploit the features of the Telegram platform to trick users into giving away bank details or personal information. Once the scammer has someone’s information, they may blackmail their victim or sell their information on the dark web.

How do Telegram scams work?

Telegram is a popular messaging app that allows users to create an account using only a phone number. Unfortunately, this makes it easy for scammers to create fake profiles. Scammers then hide behind these fake profiles and run various scams designed to steal personal or financial information from their victims. Fake profiles are often used in “friend in need” scams, romance scams, and tech support scams.

Is it safe to use Telegram?

Yes, it is safe to use Telegram if you take the appropriate security precautions. Always use strong, unique passwords and two-factor authentication to keep your account secure. Keep your Telegram app up to date and adjust the privacy settings to limit who sees your profile details.

Telegram also offers a “Secret chats” feature that provides end-to-end encryption without storing messages on the platform’s servers. Use this feature wherever possible.

Why do scammers use Telegram?

Some of Telegram’s features are easy for scammers to exploit. You only need a phone number to create a Telegram account, which means fraudsters can create fake profiles for “friend in need” or romance scams with little effort.

Another feature scammers exploit is the file-sharing feature on Telegram. Using file-sharing, cybercriminals send phishing links or malicious files containing malware to their unsuspecting targets. Scammers also use Telegram because users can create chatbots on the platform, which fraudsters use to contact and target more victims.

Telegram is also popular with cryptocurrency investors, making the platform attractive to fraudsters running cryptocurrency scams, such as pump-and-dump scams.

The 15 latest Telegram scams

Most Telegram scams involve cybercriminals creating a scam account and posing as someone they’re not to obtain sensitive information or money from their victims. Take a look at the 15 most common Telegram scams to know what signs to look out for while using this popular messaging app.

1. Romance scams

Romance scams often start on dating apps, where the scammer creates a fake profile and selects a victim. After building a connection, the scammer asks to move the conversation onto a messaging app like Telegram. Eventually, the fraudster asks for money. For example, they may ask for money to buy a plane ticket to see the victim in person.

However, once the victim sends the money, the scammer makes an excuse to cancel. They may even pull the same trick several times. These cruel online dating scams can last for months or even years. Eventually, the scammer disappears, leaving their victim heartbroken and exploited.

2. Tech support scams

Fraudsters running tech support scams pose as members of Telegram’s tech support staff. They contact victims and claim that there’s a problem with the victim’s account. The scammer asks for personal information, such as login credentials, to “fix” the issue. They may even claim that they need remote access to your device to fix the issue.

If you are having a technical issue, contact Telegram’s official channels directly. Always be suspicious if an account claiming to be from tech support reaches out to you first.

3. “Friend in need” scams

In “friend in need” scams, fraudsters create fake profiles to impersonate their victim’s friends or family members. The scammer then claims to need some money for an emergency. For example, they may claim to have lost their phone. The fraudster then tricks their victim into sending money, usually via a wire transfer.

If you suspect that a message is from a scammer, report the account immediately. You should also notify the friend or family member being impersonated because other people they know may have also been targeted.

4. Phishing scams

Telegram scammers use phishing scams to trick victims into clicking on malicious links. Many phishing links redirect victims to fake websites. These phishing sites resemble official websites and ask victims to enter login details or personal information.

Some scammers on Telegram use the integrated bots feature to run phishing scams. These scammers use malicious bots that pose as official employees and call their target. During the call, the bot dupes the victim into giving away sensitive information such as their bank account logins.

5. Investment scams

Some scammers on Telegram design investment scams claiming to net you implausibly large profits with almost no effort. These scammers often claim to be experts and use fake market data to back up their claims. Fraudsters usually target people interested in cryptocurrency or real estate investment.

In these fake investment opportunities, scammers offer to invest on your behalf if you send them money. Victims taken in by these fraudulent schemes often receive false data showing that they’ve made a profit. In reality, the scammer has stolen their money or bank details. The golden rule to remember is that if it sounds too good to be true, then it’s definitely a scam.

6. Ponzi schemes

Ponzi schemes are a sophisticated type of investment scam that Telegram users should be wary of. Fraudsters create fake investment schemes that claim to deliver huge profits. However, the scammers simply use money from newer investors to pay older investors. This creates the illusion of profits for earlier investors.

Telegram Ponzi schemes take advantage of word of mouth, so you may be targeted at an investment group’s Telegram channels. After ensnaring several victims, the Ponzi scheme collapses and the majority of the investors lose their money.

7. Fake surveys

Some Telegram scammers create fake surveys to lure potential victims. These surveys typically offer prizes to lure people in. In reality, it’s just an excuse for the scammer to steal someone’s personal details. After completing a fake survey, victims may be asked to enter their Telegram username or email address. Then scammers target these fake survey victims using phishing links.

8. Fake job listings and offers

Fraudsters post fake job ads on Telegram. These scammers may message targets directly, claiming to be a recruiter. Typically, fake job listings offer high salaries and other attractive benefits like flexible working hours. If someone responds to the listing, the scammer uses fake interview questions to steal the victim’s personal information.

9. Malicious links or attachments

Scammers extensively use malicious attachments and links. These files or links often contain malware and come in tandem with phishing scams. Scammers usually send malicious links and files via direct messages. Once the victim clicks on the link, the malware infects their device. Malware scammers then blackmail their victims or steal personal data.

10. Fake prizes and giveaways

Some scammers on Telegram create fake giveaways by pretending to be big brands or celebrities. Any prizes listed as part of these giveaways are also fake. These fraudsters claim to require their victim’s email address or personal details to sign them up. The victims never receive any prizes while the scammer escapes with their sensitive information.

11. Fake Telegram admins

Telegram users should be wary of scammers posing as fake Telegram admins. The Telegram scammer’s account name may be very similar to that of an official admin. These fake accounts contact victims claiming that there is an issue with their target’s account. The scammer then asks for login details and other sensitive information to “resolve” the issue.

Fake admins often contact victims directly via messenger. However, any legitimate admin would post in the relevant Telegram group if there was an issue. Always be aware of unsolicited messages from scammers claiming to be admins.

12. Classified ad scams

Classified ad scams target people browsing classified ad sites. Classified ad scammers create fake listings, usually for computers or cameras. The listing asks people to contact the seller via Telegram. Once the victim messages them, the scammer uses a bot to steal the victim’s bank details or personal information.

13. “Copycat” scams

In “copycat” scams, fraudsters create fake accounts and pose as legitimate companies or individuals. These fake Telegram channels have the same profile pictures and pinned posts as the original page. However, subtle username differences may give the copycat away.

These “copycat” pages often have posts from fake users. Once the victim joins the copycat Telegram group, fake users and admins contact the victim about fake giveaways or prizes. The fraudsters then try to get the victim’s personal information with the aim of committing identity theft.

14. Crypto pump-and-dump scams

Cryptocurrency pump-and-dump scams are designed around “pumping up” a specific cryptocurrency as a promising investment opportunity. Scammers do this by creating fake profiles on sites like Telegram and claiming to have expert or inside knowledge. As more victims invest in the currency, the price gets pushed up.

Eventually, the fraudsters sell or “dump” their assets. The scammers sell their stockpiles of the cryptocurrency to investors who believe the false hype around the asset. The culprits profit by selling their assets at an artificially high price.

15. Telegram bot scams

One of Telegram’s central features revolves around allowing users to create bots. Unfortunately, scammers exploit these bots and run their schemes using malicious bots. These bots are designed to convince victims to hand over their personal information through a variety of scams. Scams on Telegram that frequently use bots include fake admin scams, phishing scams, and romance scams.

How to know if someone is real on Telegram

Most Telegram fraudsters use fake profiles to run scams. Although some of these fake profiles are convincing, you can (and should) look out for specific signs indicating a scam to avoid becoming a Telegram scam victim:

  • Unsolicited messages. Telegram scammers typically target victims via unsolicited direct messages. These messages usually contain suspicious links carrying malware or phishing links. If you’re suspicious of someone, ask them to contact you in a public group.
  • Fake profiles. Fraudsters running “copycat” scams, “friend in need” scams, or romance scams use fake profiles. However, all Telegram usernames are unique, so there will be subtle differences between legitimate profiles and fake ones. Scammers also use fake profile pictures, especially in romance scams. You can identify fake pictures using a reverse image search.
  • Asking for fees. Scammers often contact victims asking for fees, especially in fake giveaways or survey scams. If someone sends you a message claiming you need to pay a fee, block and report them.
  • Refusing to call. “Friend in need” scammers or romance scammers always make excuses not to do voice or video calls, which is a major red flag. Although malicious bots can make voice calls, they cannot do video calls. If you suspect someone isn’t genuine, ask them to video call you and check their identity.
  • Unusual language. Scammers running “friend in need” scams aren’t always able to replicate exactly how someone texts. If you get a message from someone claiming to be one of your friends, check the language and punctuation they use.
  • False urgency. In many Telegram scams, fraudsters put pressure on victims using false urgency. This is common in fake admin scams. The scammer claims you’ll lose your account if you don’t follow their instructions immediately. Never give in to this.

What to do if you get scammed on Telegram

Scams on Telegram are constantly growing more sophisticated. As such, some scams are difficult to avoid. Here are some things you can do if you do get scammed on Telegram:

  • Report and block the scammer. Report the Telegram scammer’s account directly to Telegram. Click on the line of three vertical dots on the scammer’s profile, select “Report,” and explain what happened. Click “Block user” as well. Always report phishing scams if you encounter them.
  • Contact your bank. If a scammer has taken your bank details, contact your bank immediately. Ask them to freeze your card and monitor the activity on your account.
  • Contact the payment provider. If the scammer asks you to send money via a payment system, contact the provider. They may be able to reverse the transaction. Some scammers may also ask for gift cards as payment.

How to prevent Telegram scams

Scams are an ever-present danger on platforms like Telegram. Thankfully, you can take precautions to avoid falling victim to scams on Telegram:

  • Use two-factor authentication. Also known as 2FA, two-factor authentication is a good way of keeping your accounts safe. 2FA adds an extra layer of security, making it harder for scammers to steal your details.
  • Use strong passwords. Strong and unique passwords are essential for keeping your accounts safe from fraudsters. The stronger your password is, the harder it will be for scammers to access your accounts.
  • Use a VPN. Using a VPN encrypts your data and masks your IP address, improving your overall online privacy. If your country has blocked Telegram, using a VPN for Telegram still allows you to access the platform. Premium VPNs like NordVPN also offer additional security features such as Threat Protection that help prevent phishing attacks.
  • Verify any profiles you interact with. If you suspect that you’ve been contacted by a fake profile, there are ways to verify them. For example, in romance scams, fraudsters will refuse to answer a video call. If you’re targeted by a “friend in need” scam, find another way to contact the person being impersonated to verify the message.
  • Beware of implausible offers. Investment scams and Ponzi schemes often make implausible promises about profits. If you come across an investment opportunity that sounds too good to be true, it’s undoubtedly a scam.

These tips will help you stay safe on Telegram and other messaging services. Most importantly, protect your account and don’t share any sensitive information with users you don’t know.

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