Impersonation Scams Might Trick You

Author: Adam Collins

November 29, 2022

Impersonation scams are run by scammers who want to fool you into thinking that they are representatives of a well-known business organization. Scammers use Google Ads and other strategies to artificially boost their visibility in search results when users search for the names of genuine brands. 

Take, for example, the below image of scammers impersonating Target to steal gift card codes from users. Users searching for “target gift card balance” saw an advertisement leading to a fake site with the domain name ‘bristolhirevan’ that is designed to look like Target’s website. 


Image source: Reddit

Various Types of Impersonation Scams

Here are some of the most common types of impersonation scams:

Online Shopping Impersonation Scams

Scammers will send a dubious email claiming there is something wrong with your shopping order even though you haven’t ordered anything. The aim is to make you send over your personal details.

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According to Trend Micro, the top most-impersonated brands include:

  • Walmart
  • Costo
  • Netflix
  • T-Mobile
  • Amazon

Social Media Impersonation Scams

Social media websites provide tools for creating profiles and accounts that make it easy for scammers to create copycat profiles and pages. From Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram to YouTube, Reddit, and even more niche micro-blogging platforms like Tumblr, scammers run amok everywhere online.

Even though the platforms instate verification processes, scammers still manage to fool users by creating fake social media pages in the name of popular brands or people.

The best way to beat this is by cross-checking the contact details provided. If the email or phone number does not match the official brand, steer clear of the page.

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Domain Spoofing

Domain spoofing refers to scammers creating look-alike websites to dupe unsuspecting customers, and in some cases employees, into the trap. 

Scammers may replicate an entire site, to lure users into giving private information such as credit card numbers and passwords. Always be very careful while entering sensitive details online as scammers could have already accessed your online accounts before you realize that your details have fallen into the wrong hands.

Protecting Yourself Against Impersonation Scams

  • Remember to check the company’s website to confirm that you are on the official social media account of the companies you are buying from.
  • Make sure you're on the website of the site you want to visit by checking that you have not misspelled the URL. Scammers might also trick you into clicking spoofed domains that have extensions like ‘.net’. or ‘.org’ instead of ‘.com’. 
  • Make sure to use secure websites that are linked to the company in question. If you need customer support, only use the contact details given on the company’s website or verified social media accounts. You can use ScamAdviser to check if a website is legit.
  • Avoid giving out your sensitive data over the internet. Most brands or government agencies will hardly ask for your personal data.
  • Avoid clicking links in emails and messages. Use the brand’s app or visit their official website if there are account-related issues.

Impersonation scams are a popular way for cybercriminals to trick you – and companies like Apple, Facebook, Google, Paypal, and Twitter are often targeted. While there are a lot of great websites out there, you need to be careful when you visit them. These sites can trick you into impersonating a celebrity, pretending to be the police, or just taking your personal details. 

How can you stay safe online? One way is to ensure that you never click on an email or text message that seems to be from a company or a friend but is unexpected. Only you can protect yourself against scams and fraud.

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Report a Scam!

Have you fallen for a hoax, bought a fake product? Report the site and warn others!

Help & Info

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