Are wily con artists cashing in on your Instagram? - Jim Duffy

Kenneth Cranham is a fine actor who plays a blinder in the film Layer Cake. A new-age ­gangster film starring the current 007 Daniel Craig, Layer Cake tells a story of deceit and lies.

Scammers have their greedy guns locked and loaded on generations Y and Z, says Duffy. Picture: Contributed

Cranham plays the arch villain Jimmy Price, who is always on the lookout for a deal or quick investment to do done quietly and under the radar.

When a senior politician of an unnamed African republic visits the golf ­tournament where Jimmy is participating, it creates such an opportunity. Having tempted ­Jimmy with his business card, the king then gives him a full presentation on the investment plans for the mining of platinum, gold and silver in his home country.

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Jimmy is – in a heartbeat – sticking in £11 million of his ill-gotten gains. And guess what? Jimmy is scammed and loses the lot. If someone as sly and wily as Jimmy can get scammed, so can we.

I am still reading that people in the UK and US are being conned by the old Nigerian royal family scam. This particular ruse has been a big hit over the last 20 years. In short, one receives an email from ‘royalty’ in Nigeria explaining that there are huge profits to be made, or that one has won a prize there.

All that is required is your bank account details and the cash will be sent over. Oh, and can you send the transfer fee for the cash. This is usually an amount that seems reasonable in light of your big opportunity.

Vulnerability and greed

Last year in the US, $1 million was lost to this con as it targeted older people, who sent over a few hundred dollars apiece to participate. All they got in return was a big fat zero. It just shows you how vulnerability is used in scamming.

Vulnerability plays its part but greed, or the chance to win big and fast, plays an even bigger part. It is the thought of wins that make the FTSE index look like Eeyore that sucks in so many.

A chance to turn £1,000 into £10,000 within a fortnight is hugely attractive and in so many cases, sadly, worth the risk. But it seems that the scammers are not just targeting older members of our communities. Their greedy guns are locked and loaded on ­generations Y and Z.

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Instagram seems to be where the young ‘uns have all gone now that the older generations have adopted and, some might say, ruined Facebook. Instagram is where the action is. It is where the stars, celebrities and influencers are all hanging out. This makes it appealing for teens, twenty-somethings and thirty-somethings to be seen – exactly why the scammers are there.

Millennials need money just like the rest of us. Millennials are human just like the rest of us. They may be more open to veganism, more ecologically aware and more socially responsible, but they still have human frailties. These, of course, include vulnerability and greed. And the scammers just love it. So what do they do? Here is how it goes.

The scammers will set up realistic, professional looking pages that promise to flip your cash fast so you win big. The posts and sites will have hundreds of likes. All false, of course, thus giving the whole scam that air of respectability. But it doesn’t end there.

No, the posts even have messages from ‘investors’ who have scored new wealth and are posting big thank you notes. It lures our unsuspecting and unsophisticated youngsters into a false sense of security. All the user has to do is load up a pre-paid card. In short, hand over money from their bank account into the ­complete unknown. Having done so, the user is blocked and the money is gone.

As human beings of all ages, we are vulnerable and open to making a quick buck. The ­danger for the current generation of social media users is that the scammers know this and have morphed and adapted.

The danger is real and out there online. Might be worth a quick word with your kids and grandkids this week on what not to do when offered a cash cow!

- Jim Duffy MBE, Create Special.