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How To Protect Yourself from Google Chat Scams?
Updated · Aug 26, 2023
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Google Chat’s emphasis on providing anonymity is a two-edged sword. While it is fairly easy to use, scams involving this platform are one of the most rampant types of scams.
These scammers can trick you into providing personal or sensitive information and extorting money. It is important to know how to protect yourself from them.
In this article, discover how scammers use Google Chat to scam people and what you can do to prevent yourself from falling prey to them.
🔑 Key Takeaways
Why is Google Chat a Haven For Scammers?
Google Chat was formerly Google Hangouts. Similar to Facebook’s Messenger, it has the ability for real-time communication, and unfortunately, scammers lurk within, waiting for their next.
Google Mail is the most popular email platform on the internet by a wide mile. All Gmail accounts can use Hangouts without further setup, making it easy for scammers to set up an email account and scam others.
💡Did You Know?
Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pioneered easy instant messaging for modern internet users. To put that into perspective, 260 million new conversations go through Facebook Messenger daily.
How To Tell if You’re Being Scammed
Technology is advancing at lightning speeds, and scammers are keeping up.
It is often easy to spot a scammer, especially if you look out for the signs. Strangers asking you for personal information to move the conversation to Google Chat are telltale signs of a scam.
⚠️🚨⚠️Be wary of this acc, it was asking me to go chat on google chat, mostly women on his acc as well.February 24, 2023
However, scammers have become more innovative. Victims often won’t realize they’ve been scammed until too late.
The most common scams in Google Chat are romance scams. It is crucial to understand how these scams work to protect yourself from falling prey to them.
How Romance Scams Work in Google Chat
Many people use the internet to try different ways to make money online, both through legitimate and illegitimate means. However, many choose to do illegal activities instead because it’s an easy task with lucrative rewards when done right.
A #ValentinesDay Cautionary Poem 💔:
— FBI Washington Field (@FBIWFO) February 14, 2021
Every year, vulnerable people are repeatedly targeted by scammers. Here’s how most of these scams work:
1. Scammers ask you to switch to Google Chat.
The scammer will first talk to you on whichever site or app you’re both on, such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Then, they typically convince you to switch to Google Chat and even ask for your Gmail address.
Google Chat is the favored platform for Nigerian and Russian scam accounts. It’s almost totally unregulated as far as how it’s used. If you’re talking to anyone here and they try to get you to go to that app, flush 🚽 them away like a giant turd. They are definitely fake accounts— Rob (@RobCSAO17) July 29, 2023
Then, they will typically entice victims to send dirty pictures and even call on video. Thankfully, it’s easier to identify scammer profile pictures now, especially with more specialized research tools on the market.
2. They ask you for money.
An Australian psychologist, Monica Whitty, published a paper on romance scams where she reports scammers showering victims with compliments and professing their love and support to get the victim’s attention.
Once you fall for their fake personality and want to meet them face to face, they usually ask you for money.
The scammer might tell you they urgently need your help. Some might even tell you giving them money proves your feelings for them.
Some will threaten to post your naked pictures or videos on social media. Just like what happened to this Reddit user.
Many of these sextortion scams happen due to visiting sketchy websites that harvest your data to target you. Many of these sites install malware into your device and slowly worm themselves into your socials to get you to go to Google Chat.
3. If you sent the money to them, then the scam is a success.
Because scammers know the right words to say, victims often give them the benefit of the doubt and agree to send them money. Some victims even give gift cards or gifts bought with their credit cards.
Once they send the money, two things can happen. The scammer will usually disappear, but others may continue to talk to victims to coax them into giving more. Victims of these scams can lose money from hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars.
It’s best to be careful when chatting with a stranger online. Scammers have millions of ways to extort money from people. Knowing how to avoid them can help you protect yourself.
Ways To Avoid Romance Scams on Google Chat
There are many ways to avoid being a victim of these scams, such as:
- blocking scammers
- deactivating your social media accounts
- subscribing to a background check service
Many scam victims often post on Reddit telling readers to block scammers and deactivate all their social media accounts. Stopping all interactions with the scammer can help the victim move on with their life and minimize the damage.
Scamming can cause an immense emotional and financial toll on a victim. Thankfully, many proven methods help you track down a scammer.
A great way to verify a person's identity and avoid being scammed is through using third-party apps such as Social Catfish.
Social Catfish is a website that allows you to verify:
- social profiles
- phone numbers
- other publicly available information.
Through scouring through public records, this website helps check whether the person you’re speaking with is telling you the truth about who they are.
For instance, if a person you’re dating tells you they're a military member, but something about that is fishy, Social Catfish is your go-to app to do a background check on them using their proprietary technology.
The website also has a “reverse image” search function. Users can upload a photo of a person to check if it’s authentic or if they are really who they say they are.
Social Catfish also offers a more premium service for a minimal charge to research and create a full report of the person in question. Having the assistance of a search specialist on their website could be a good investment, especially if you want to go beyond making a simple search by yourself.
⏳In A Nutshell:
Scammers plan everything, from getting you to switch from simple dating apps to Google Hangouts to get your money.
Even if you know their tricks and goals, anyone can catch you because they are pros and have done it before.
Protecting yourself from these scammers is very important. Thus, keep a vigilant approach when talking to strangers online.
Are romance scams and sextortion the same?
“Sextortion” is a type of romance scam. The terms “sex” and “extortion” are combined to indicate fraud by threatening the victim via their sexual images and videos.
I just started dating this guy I met online. How do I know if he’s a scammer?
The owner of Social Catfish, David McClellan, says to be watchful of photos that draw a lot of eyeballs. Many romance scammers use the same fake photos, popular photos on social networks, or steal photos of attractive people in military uniform or porn stars (dressed, of course). They tend to use the exact canned phrases over and over.
Is Social Catfish free?
You can use Social Catfish for a small monthly fee. You may choose from a range of membership features that can cost somewhere between $5 to $28. Their in-depth search can go for a one-time payment of almost $400.
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