Meta urged to act on rising consumer fraud scams

The UK high street bank has written to the social media giant, claiming that 80% of its top three fraud categories are caused by scams that originate on Meta platforms. It is urging the firm to implement “tech interventions” to prevent people from falling victim.

In the past year, TSB has refunded more than 2,000 cases of online shopping scams that originated on Meta-owned platforms such as Facebook Marketplace and Instagram. This is compared to just under 1,000 cases the year before. And this figure is likely to rise.

The company is currently facing intense pressure from the banking industry to do more to tackle the issue. A group of banks led by digital challenger Starling has called for a joint effort to crack down on the problem of authorised push payment (APP) fraud, which allows scammers to steal virtual currency and other assets without the owner’s consent. It is estimated that consumers could lose up to $250 million in 2023 from these kinds of schemes.

It’s a big concern for the companies behind these services, which rely on people to flag suspicious transactions and provide feedback. But in many instances, these platforms have been unable to prevent hacking and phishing. A nurse in rural Maine, a fitness instructor in Colorado and a venture capitalist in Florida are just some of the people CNBC has spoken to who have lost their investments in the metaverse after they were tricked into clicking on phishing links that took them to websites that stole their digital land. Once cybercriminals have the username and password for a user’s MetaMask wallet, they can extract all of their digital assets and then resell them on online marketplaces such as OpenSea.

These kinds of incidents can be very difficult to report. A common scam involves consumers receiving texts that appear to come from their bank’s fraud department asking them to confirm if they have made any suspicious charges or withdrawals. If the person responds ‘no’, they will then receive a text claiming to have an authentication PIN number that will allow them to reset their account password. But this is all a scam. Legitimate banks will never ask a consumer to produce this code over the phone.

Another type of scam that is growing in popularity is the voice cloning scam. This is where a scammer will use a computer to mimic the sound of a loved one, usually a family member, and convince them that they are in danger and need money. It is important to always be suspicious of calls from family members, especially when they ask for crypto currency or money cards.

A Meta spokesperson told CNBC that the company is working with the likes of Stop Scams UK and the National Trading Standards’ Friends Against Scams to raise awareness. But that will be little comfort to those who have already been ripped off.

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