TikTok Scams: How They Work and How To Avoid Them
Today we’re exposing a bunch of TikTik scams. Let’s dive right in. TikTok is a great video platform with 800 million users, where people can interact, connect with friends, and share different clips. However, due to its popularity, cybercriminals took the opportunity to create many scams around TikTok, especially this time of the year. Meanwhile, there is the issue of the TikTok Data Privacy Settlement scam, which we’ll discuss in a separate article.
There are many fraudulent practices out there using the app’s brand, both on and off the platform. Feel free to share your experience in the comments section, if you have any. Meanwhile, let’s take a look at the most notorious tricks, how to identify them, and how to report them.
1. Duplicated TikTok Account
Since most of the TikTok users are into instant gratification and want more followers — similar to Instagramers — one tricky way to increase the numbers is to assume the identity of an already established TikTok celebrity and feed off the stardom. How do they do that? Easy. Crooks take viral videos of popular users such as Charli D’Amelio, Josh Richards, Baby Ariel, or Zoe Laverne and upload them to their own accounts.
To assume a famous TikToker’s account, scammers use symbols, emojis, and even foreign characters to alter the username (e.g., Charlidamelio, where the presumed letter ‘l’ would be replaced by the capital letter of ‘i’).
Once scammers gain enough followers, they simply proceed to convert the impersonated account to a personal one and begin uploading original content. Some even manage to get the ‘verified’ badge (you can see how to get verified on TikTok for real at the bottom of this article).
Another example is a YouTube star called Piper Rockelle. On TikTok, a few accounts are using her name. As you can see below, not only is her name misspelled, but it’s also wrapped in icons – two CDs.
Many popular users on the platform are the target of such scams, especially since it seems that all of them take daily turns in having the most viewed TikTok video. Let’s take a look.
Here is a list of the Top 20 most searched TikTok users online (not the most popular accounts):
- Josh Richards
- Loren Gray
- Jojo Siwa
- Chase Hudson
- Baby Ariel
- Zoe Laverne
- Belle Delphine
- Trinity Morisette
- Hanna Rylee
- Parker James
- Millie Bobby Brown
- Payton Moormeier
- Noen Eubanks
- Maverick Baker
- Holly H
There are a few other accounts that stand out, such as Jacob Sartorius, Bytedance, Austin Sprinz, Sebastian, Cash Baker, Norris Nuts, and Cynthia Parker.
Before we are moving to the next TokTok scams, let’s address an inquiry that everyone has:
Most Viewed TikTok Video in 2020
The most viewed TokTok video on the platform changes very often, as these clips start on TikTok but became so popular that they end up on YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook. However, here is the most viewed TikTok video this year:
@daviddobrikWorld record experiment♬ original sound – daviddobrik
2. TikTok Freebie, aka the TikTok Starbucks Drink
The Tik Tok community was flooded recently by a wave of “Starbucks drinks” videos. It was – and still is – a mysterious, fashionable campaign that got many Starbucks shops inundated with requests for a TikTok drink they’ve never heard of before. Users would ask baristas to make them the ‘secret TikTok’ refresher. Well, the beverage is not really a secret, as the recipe for consists of three strawberry scoops and three blackberry scoops, blended with the matching size scoop of ice.
However, it was considered a ‘secret’ because it was not on the Starbucks menu – it was just a TikTok community request (some people might say the recipe is different). You could still get the drink ordered at most Starbucks shops, but make sure you ask nicely about it.
As the TikTok Starbucks drink is still a hot topic in the videos, cybercrooks use that to their advantage. This scam recently took the form of a regular text message. The users receive a message like this:
“TikTok has recently reached the incredible milestone of 800 million users! As a token of our appreciation, we are giving lucky users a FREE Starbucks drink, and you have been selected! Visit the [compromised website] to get it! Prizes are awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis, so claim yours today!”
The link or format of the text message may change, but the endgame is usually the same thing. As soon as you click on the link, you’ll be asked to input personal information under the guise of logging in. Once you are there, the instructions lead you to download a free app, which earns the scammer a referral fee. Other links may infect you with malware that forces you to reveal more about yourself.
Regardless of the content of the message, make sure to delete it to save yourself from unpleasant scenarios.
3. TikTok Download Video Without Watermark
Many users are wondering how to download the TikTok videos without watermark, so there is no surprise that most of them are looking online for websites or software that would help them with that quest. However, scammers know this, as well. Unfortunately, tons of fake sites claim to do that but ask users to either download extra, unnecessary software on their device (with the risk of installing a keylogger) or to pay for a service that should be free.
If you want to download TikTok videos without watermark, you can do it safely HERE. Here is a screenshot of what the website looks like:
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Alternatively, you can try the TikTok downloader, which supports the download of watermark-free videos as well as download TikTok videos as GIFs.
4. TikTok Account Finder
This scam is targeting people who are trying to find a specific TikTok account. Similar to Instagram, the platform offers usernames, but if your account does not reveal your name, then it would be very challenging for someone to find you.
The TikTok Account Finder trick is based on the same principle as the watermark download trap. Scammers advertise websites where you could find anyone’s details – not just their names, but their telephone and email address, too – if you install malicious software on your device. One of these websites was TTAcctfinder.com, which has been reported already. Beware.
Recommended Read: How to Prevent Identity Theft
5. TikTok Catfishing
Typically in this type of scams, fake users are trying to manipulate you to their own goals. They may steal someone else’s videos (or even use stock footage) and claim to be that person. “Scammers steal videos also from other platforms such as Instagram or Snapchat and tailor the format to the TikTok platform. They impersonate attractive women and upload their videos to the app to encourage TikTok users to sign up for their premium, paid accounts on adult platforms – such as OnlyFans – or Snapchat Premium”, explains Johnny Santiago, online fraud expert from Social Catfish.
How can you identify a catfish scam? How do you know if you’re being at risk?
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This type of interaction is usually one-sided. The person will talk to you, ask numerous questions about your life but will reveal only little about themselves. It’s a form of manipulation, and if you’re not careful, you’ll soon find yourself disclosing vital information about yourself or logging on to malicious websites.
Keep aware of any manipulation that may be taking place when chatting with anyone online. If anything doesn’t feel right, you should avoid such contacts. These people are typically used to putting you in a tight spot, and you’ll feel the pressure as they try their best to coerce you. Are you really chatting with them, or are they just asking you a different question?
6. Online Dating Trap: One of the Most Popular TikTok Scams
This scam is somehow related to the previous one, but it’s more personal. It seems to operate the same way, but it would span over a more extended period, while the person chatting with you — which you can see in her videos — is real. Scammers won’t try to gain information quickly or immediately from you. Instead, you’ll be tricked into a relationship of some sort.
It will take the form of a random attractive person who messages you and looks to develop an intimate relationship with you. Over time, things begin to get more personal or private and appear like a real relationship. The only catch is that you don’t know their intentions, and there’s no real personal connection.
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As soon as they’ve gained your trust, they may begin to ask for some financial aid to “get out of trouble” (e.g., my mom needs urgent surgery, and we don’t have money to do it”) or even vital financial credentials. They will rely on the connection that both of you have managed to developed and will manipulate you to keep you from refusing. The user is usually too ashamed to tell their friends and family and can even wreck them emotionally.
You should avoid forming any personal connections with online strangers, as that’s the way to prevent any losses. Also, don’t be afraid to ask people for help.
7. Straight Blackmail
The dangers you may face on TikTok are not limited to someone who is trying to gain vital information from you or force you to a malicious website; they may also be trying to blackmail you. To do this, they’ll try to gain your trust before proceeding to talk about sex-related issues. Over time, they could even encourage you to share explicit content about yourself with them, such as a nude photo.
As soon as the user falls victim to this, then the blackmail starts. They will threaten to send the explicit content to the friends or family of the user who has fallen into their trap. Nobody wants naked pictures of them getting to their spouse or children, so they usually for this trick. The scammer would make a financial demand in exchange for saving the reputation of the affected person.
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Similarly, the scammers would try to get the conversation moved from TikTok to FaceTime, where they would also ask you to record yourself doing personal actions for them to watch. Then blackmail.
Always try to find out who you’re chatting with. Also, do not share any information with a stranger that you don’t want anyone else to see. If you come across any stranger making such demands online, it is usually a scam. Also, it’s best that you don’t make such incriminating videos in the first place and send them to someone who you don’t know.
8. Tik Tok Bots
TikTok is filled with different bots that would try to interact with you, just like regular users. In fact, you may easily think they are genuine, and it would cause you to fall victim to a Tik Tok blackmail scam. These bots are automated and will function according to a preprogrammed script. Usually, they are designed to be very sophisticated, and it may take a long time to detect what their real intentions are.
Essentially, the goal of the bot is to communicate with you and redirect you to a malicious website that would either look to infect your device with malware or trick you into revealing vital information about yourself, such as credit card information or bank account details. The website may be a sexual-related one, and to pay for more exquisite details, you would need to fill in your credentials.
The key to identifying this type of threat is to try to find out who you’re talking to and identify any unusual phrases or demands. Avoid interacting with any stranger without confirming their identity.
TikTok Scams: How To Report Them
Warn your family and friends about these TikTok scams by sharing the article on social media using the buttons provided. You can also officially report the scammers and any other suspicious activity to the TikTok’s Support Page or the Federal Trade Commission using the link below:
How To Get Verified on TikTok
We promised earlier that we will show you how to get verified on TikTok, so watch the video below and follow those steps. Good luck!
How To Prevent Identity Theft and More
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