Nowadays, finding a celebrity who is not impersonated in some form is extremely difficult. Die-hard fans who follow their idols often create websites and social media accounts as a tribute to their stars. While these activities could mislead other followers, they usually cause no harm to anyone.
But it is when scammers set up accounts under celebrity names that things could go haywire. These fake profiles have entirely different motives, typically to commit financial and data fraud. They assume celebrity identities to deceive followers, abusing the trust and credibility public figures have built for themselves.
Imposter scams are an issue for both stars and their fans. Popular social media platforms already have strict policies regarding misleading profiles and constantly monitor suspicious activities to identify fraud. According to reports, Twitter alone removes over one million accounts each day that violate its rules. But you can’t just rely on these platforms to ensure your safety. Taking proactive steps to protect yourself is critical to avoid celebrity imposter scams.
Imposters could target you for scams in countless ways. However, you can easily identify and prevent them with adequate awareness of their techniques, typical risk factors, and common red flags.
Primarily, there are two ways for a criminal to pose as someone famous; They can hack and take over the official social media account of a popular figure. Alternatively, they could create fake accounts using deepfake images, videos, and voice clips powered by artificial intelligence. Deepfake media look uncannily authentic and may easily mislead star-struck fans.
You can fall prey to a fake celebrity by following these fraudulent social media profiles. But imposters could also identify victims by scanning celebrity accounts. Therefore, if you actively pursue a particular A-lister, leaving comments and likes each day, there is a higher chance of being targeted for an imposter scam.
Predicting how a cybercriminal would operate is understandably difficult. However, there are certain tactics they frequently adopt. These include:
- Celebrity product endorsements to lure you into purchasing an item of inferior quality or one that does not even exist.
- Investment opportunities, especially in crypto, that promise extraordinary returns.
- Donation requests for a charity endorsed or led by a celebrity.
- Tickets for concerts or exclusive parties hosted by a star to mingle with A-listers.
- Attractive competition prizes.
But, of course, scammers could deploy many other tactics for their nefarious schemes. For instance, they could run fake online adverts featuring celebrities. They may also share virus-infected attachments for you to download or links that take you to malicious websites. Once you click, they could launch ransomware attacks or use malware to steal compromising data from your devices.
Often, these criminals are either after your money or personal data.
Many imposter scams are designed around financial fraud—they can mislead you to purchase a substandard product, donate to a fake charity, or transfer a large amount of crypto for a fake investment. These types of financially motivated crimes are relatively straightforward and make their intentions crystal clear.
However, not all scams will be so evident, especially when they are focused on identity theft. For instance, imposters could ask you to share your social security number, bank account details, or some other personal data that could compromise your identity and safety. By stealing your identifiable and confidential information, criminals can target you for a financial scam or use you as bait to target others.
Common signs include:
- Requests for personal data.
- Payments in cryptocurrency, wire transfers, gift cards, or other untraceable methods.
- An offer that seems too good to resist.
- Spelling and grammar errors in messages, posts, and profile descriptions.
A cautious approach is the best weapon to protect yourself from celebrity imposters. If you receive a message from a famous actor, musician, or some other A-lister, verifying their authenticity is crucial before you click on a link, download an attachment, or comply with a request for money or personal data.
What steps can you take in such an instance?
- Review their profile information for any red flags. For example, misspelled names, the use of symbols and numbers in the social media handle, blurred photos, and a handful of followers are telltale signs that something is amiss.
- Check the account activities. Fewer posts and more shares are signs of a fake account.
- Search for the celebrity’s name on the social media platform they have contacted you on. If you find more than one account, there are likely plenty of imposters roaming about.
- Google for recent scam incidents relating to the celebrity who reached out to you.
- If they share a contact number, search for it on PhoneHistory to check who it is registered under.
- When you are asked to support a charity, research it online before making a donation. Never donate to an unfamiliar organization or cause. Ensure it is registered, and if so, contact it directly to verify celebrity affiliations and donation details.
- Be wary of photos, videos, and voice clips that feature someone popular. With AI and deepfake technology, creating fake media with your favorite celebrity’s face or voice is surprisingly easy. So, learn how to identify deepfakes. Unnatural expressions, movements, and audio, blurred imagery, and mismatched skin tones and lighting should all raise concerns.
If you suspect you are approached by a fake celebrity, stop communicating with them immediately. Alert the social media platform and inform the Federal Trade Commission.
In addition, share the incident with your friends, family, and social media connections. Raising awareness is crucial to combat celebrity imposter scams and prevent others from becoming a victim.
Technology has fueled sophisticated forms of scams that would have been impossible to understand or imagine just a few decades back. Celebrity imposters who take advantage of the influencing power of popular figures are a good example.
If you get star-struck easily, remaining alert to these imposter scams is crucial. Educate yourself about fraudulent celebrity schemes, and practice extreme caution when you are approached online by someone who appears famous. In addition, report incidents to raise awareness.
Shubham Kansal is a bit addicted to the latest happening in the political and sports world. He loves to watch anime & manga, suspense, and Horror web series. He used to search and writes about the latest political, sports, and popular celebrity biography.