Utah teen loses $5K to social media scammer

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SALT LAKE CITY — The new year started on a sour note for some Utah teens who lost money to scammers over social media. It’s not necessarily a new trick but if your teen falls for it, they might be out thousands of dollars.

One Utah mother reached out to KSL after she said her high school senior was ripped-off to the tune of $5,000.

Teens are being approached with job offers from impostors on social media networks such as Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram.

Sometimes, the bad guys pass themselves off as classmates.

In Cole Hartney’s case, he got an offer from what he thought was a friend’s uncle via Instagram to make quick cash by filling out survey packets.

“I even called him on the phone (and) was talking to him,” he said.

The man persuaded Cole to hand over his bank account credentials so he could get paid.

Cole soon discovered it was a rip-off.

The employer/thief deposited bogus checks into Cole’s account.

“It looked like there was $2,000 in my account, but what was actually happening is he was just taking out money for himself,” Cole said.

When the forgery was discovered, Cole’s bank account balance went into the red by $1,000.

Because he divulged his account information, he had to pay the bank back.


“I probably should just have listened to my mom, because she warned me,” he said.

In a scheme like this, your teen’s money won’t have any protection. Giving out their account username and password puts them on the hook for that stolen money

Officials say you can make sure your teens know that just because an offer comes from a “friend” on social media, it doesn’t mean it’s the real deal.

Once a fraudster gets your credentials, they can do whatever the online system or mobile banking app allows.

Because many of us use the same passwords on different sites — which is a big “no-no” — the bad guys will hack into your social media, and keep the scheme going.

Another teen also talked to KSL about losing $1,000 in a very similar scheme.

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Brittany Glas


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