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Scammers use Instagram to help them steal $50,000 from PA banks

The Facebook-owned photo sharing application was used as a recruiting tool to lure people into a bank fraud scheme.
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Written by Natalie Gagliordi, Senior Writer on
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A trio of men successfully used Instagram to steal more than $50,000 from various financial institutions.

According to a press release from the office of Pennsylvania attorney general Josh Shapiro, the Facebook-owned photo sharing application was used as a recruiting tool to lure people into a bank fraud scheme.

The suspects posted bank photos to Instagram and sought people to "like" their posts. When people responded, they were asked to give away their account information in exchange for a cut of the money the suspects planned to steal from the banks. Obviously, Instagram didn't knowingly play a role in the heist.

"These thieves used modern-day social media tools to lure people to help them commit old-fashioned crimes -- depositing fraudulent checks into bank accounts and withdrawing money that didn't belong to them," Shapiro said in a statement. "Whether the criminals are scammers targeting elderly Pennsylvanians, or con men targeting banks, we'll hold them accountable."

The big takeaway from the case is how social media has become another outlet for financial scams to breed and spread. While most people are smart enough not to send money to the Nigerian prince who contacted them via email, social media sites are a new frontier where con artists can seek out and prey on vulnerable users.

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