Cybercriminals are using fake Shein gift cards to lure victims into handing over their bank details online.
A new ‘unbearable’ scam has taken Instagram by storm this month, with people across the world targeted in the money-grabbing trick.
Virus detector, Avast, claims the con generally kicks off with a simple comment, congratulating users for winning a fashion retailer gift card.
To claim this, victims are encouraged to click the link in a scammer’s page where they may be put under time pressure to answer a short survey.
In one example, users had just two minutes to answer questions like ‘do you agree with the prices of products in SHEIN?’ and ‘How do you plan to use the SHEIN gift card?’.
Criminals are now using fake Shein gift cards to lure victims into handing over bank details
Virus detector, Avast, claims the con often kicks off with a simple congratulatory comment
INSTAGRAM SCAMS: WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR
- Anyone asking for money
- Someone offering a prize, money, gift card or loan
- Unverified public figures and companies
- People asking for a fee when applying for a job
- Messages from someone you know containing a suspicious link
- Someone claiming to be from Instagram asking for account details
- Anyone claiming to have a relative in an emergency situation
- Accounts which are quite new to the platform
- Spelling mistakes and grammar errors in messages/ posts
- Extreme discounts being offered
- Anyone who misrepresents where they are
- Someone asking you to take the conversation away from Instagram to a less secure platform
Regardless of your answers, it is understood that victims will always make it to the next stage, where they are presented with a screen filled with wrapped presents.
The site will then give users three chances to click on a prize-winning box.
Avast claims the first one will always be empty, making the whole plot even more realistic.
It is understood that the Shein reward will always be given after the second box-click, with the scam site claiming that prizes range from £25 to £2,000.
But the scammers often claim they will need an address and postage payment to send out this gift card within a few days.
This is the point at which users are encouraged to hand over their personal details including a name, phone number, email and bank details.
As a result, Avast claims that victims unknowingly sign up to a subscription fee rather than a single postage payment.
In many countries, the charged amount is not disclosed, but for France it is €2 followed by €33 each fortnight – equivalent to £1.80 and £29.
Amid the scam, social media has been flooded with comments, as some users claim they are being bombarded with gift card offers everyday.
One person tweeted: ‘Is anyone else finding that Instagram is becoming completely unusable.
‘Every single day for the past few weeks I have been tagged in multiple “SHEIN gift card” scams. It’s getting quite unbearable.’
Another added: ‘I’ve won about 14,000 Shein gift cards on Instagram this morning and the spam accounts tag you in every single one of them.’
Users may be put under time pressure to answer a short survey before the ‘gift card’ is finally handed over. Then, the site will then give users three chances to click on a prize-winning box. Avast claims the first one will always be empty, making the whole plot more realistic
It is understood that the Shein reward will always be given after the second box-click, with the scam site claiming that prizes range from £25 to £2,000. Once payment details are entered, victims unknowingly sign up to a subscription rather than a single postage payment
Others have joked about the influx of gift card offers, with one user tweeting: ‘Why won’t my landlord let me pay my rent in SHEIN gift cards I’ve won on Instagram’.
One person added: ‘If I had a pound for every Shein gift card I’ve “won”, I’d have enough to buy a Shein gift card.’
Another joked: ‘How can I live, laugh and love… when I spend all day reporting and blocking.’
The ‘tiresome’ Shein scam has even prompted some Instagram users to consider ditching the platform.
One person asked: ‘What on earth is a Shein gift card? Anyone else considering ditching Instagram because of the tiresome spam?’
Another said it was ‘beyond a joke’, tweeting: ‘ @instagram sort out these fake @SHEIN_Official gift card tags it’s beyond a joke every hour tagged in a new post.’
The gift card scam is not the first to have targeted Shein-buyers, with other schemes also hooking victims with gift giveaways.
Last year, Shein said: ‘We are aware of a scam claiming to provide a credit card number for free SHEIN items. This is fake and in NO WAY endorsed by our company. Please be cautious when engaging online!’
Amid the scam, social media has been flooded with comments about the Shein gift cards
A few months later, they tweeted again: ‘We have been made aware of recent email scams falsely claiming to come from our company, and can verify this is not an official SHEIN communication. Please feel free to confirm with us through our customer service channels at any time regarding official emails from SHEIN offer…’
MailOnline has approached Shein for comment.
To protect yourself against scams, Instagram recommends that users should watch out for some key signs.
Red flags often include someone asking for money, offering to send money, gift cards or anything else.
Unverified accounts that appear to represent large brands or public figures are also deemed untrustworthy, in addition to anyone asking for a fee to apply for a job.
Any fraudulent requests may be written with poor spelling and grammar too, potentially from an account that is new to the platform.
Reporting suspected bot accounts is also a good way to crackdown on social media scams, with some users already doing so in regards to Shein.
Shein has acknowledged that criminals pretend to be the retailer as a way to scam people
‘Bots, spam or whatever scams these criminals come up with. I always report them. An international task force should be set up because I suspect it’s run by the drug cartels,’ one Twitter user said.
Another added: ‘Basically only ever go onto Instagram these days to block and report all of the Shein spam I get tagged in every single day without fail.’
Instagram said: ‘If you see something that you think is a scam, you should avoid responding and report the scam to Instagram.
‘Bear in mind that your report is anonymous, except if you’re reporting an intellectual property infringement. The account you reported won’t see who reported them.’
Avast also added: ‘When getting information from an Instagram account (or other social networks), look for signs that the account is original and authentic.
‘There are plenty of copycats and fraudulent accounts out there, but when looking closely, you’ll almost always be able to spot signs pointing to the fact that they’re ingenuine.’
MailOnline has approached Instagram for comment.
Instagram launches crackdown on fake accounts with new feature giving users more information
Instagram has launched a crackdown on fake accounts, introducing a new feature showing users information about who is really behind a username.
The Photo-sharing app’ more than 1 billion users will now be able to evaluate the authenticity of accounts, weeks after parent Facebook rolled out similar measures in a bid to weed out fake accounts on its social media platform.
The ‘About This Account’ feature will allow users to see the advertisements an account is running, the country where the account is located, username changes in the past year as well as other details.
To learn more about an account, go to their Profile, tap the … menu and then select ‘About This Account.’
There, you will see the date the account joined Instagram, the country where the account is located, accounts with shared followers, any username changes in the last year and any ads the account is currently running.
Instagram also plans to significantly boost the number of verified accounts for public figures, celebrities, and global brands.
Along with the account username, applicants will need to provide full real names and a copy of legal or business identification.
Instagram also said it will allow the use of third-party apps such as DUO Mobile and Google Authenticator for two-factor authentication to help users securely log in to their accounts.