5 Telegram scams to be aware of
January 24, 2024
Telegram is one of the world's safest, most popular messaging platforms, drawing millions of active users. Unfortunately, among those users are cyber criminals looking to prey on other Telegram members.
If you’re one of the many people who enjoy using Telegram, you don’t want a run-in with a scammer to taint your experience. That’s why it’s important to know how to protect yourself from defrauders who use this application to steal people’s funds and personal information.
Here’s how to spot Telegram scams and maintain your digital security.
What are Telegram scams?
Telegram scams involve cyber criminals using the app to trick users into sharing private information. Common scams include:
Phishing: In phishing attempts, scammers pretend to be trustworthy individuals, like friends, relatives, or Telegram employees, to manipulate people into providing personal information.
Cryptocurrency scams: Defrauders often pose as crypto experts and try to fool people into investing or sending them digital currencies, leading to the victims losing money.
Bots: Some cyber criminals use malicious bots to interact with users and steal information, like credit card numbers and login credentials.
Why do scammers use Telegram?
Scammers can use virtually any messaging system to target victims — like WhatsApp, phone calls, and peer-to-peer payment apps like Zelle and Venmo. But what makes Telegram so desirable for defrauders are the same features that make the application so convenient: privacy and ease of use. Here are a few platform features that scammers use to their advantage:
Encryption: Telegram encrypts messages, meaning no one except the sender and intended recipient can access and read them. This also means the police or other authorities can’t intercept or trace messages from scammers.
Anonymity: All you need is a phone number to sign up for Telegram. If a cyber criminal signs up with a burner phone or a number with no connection to their real identity, they can easily stay anonymous on the app.
Group chats: Cyber criminals often use the group chat feature to target multiple victims at once and increase their odds that at least one person will fall into their trap.
Chatbot capability: Telegram allows chatbots, giving defrauders the opportunity to use artificial intelligence (AI) to communicate with targets.
5 Telegram scams you should know about
Don’t let scammers keep you from the ease and enjoyment of using Telegram. Instead, look out for these common Telegram scams to continue chatting safely on the platform:
1. Fake Telegram channels
Telegram channels give people with common interests a place to chat. While most originate from genuine users with a passion for a certain topic, some may be the work of scammers hoping to steal your information.
Cyber criminals make these channels look real with convincing profile pictures and lively chat discussions, all to give users a false sense of security when subscribing and chatting. If you join one of these channels, the scammers will usually try to get you to share personal information with them or trick you into clicking on a link that asks for your data or even installs malware on your device.
2. Telegram crypto scams
Many crypto enthusiasts and experts hang out on Telegram, making it a go-to spot for anyone with an interest in digital currencies. Unfortunately, many scammers take advantage of this fact and pretend to be experts providing cryptocurrency services.
These imposters bait Telegram users by promising investment opportunities with high returns. Once a user agrees to invest, the scammer will have them move their cryptocurrency to a new account for the investment, only to take the funds and disappear.
3. Support scams
Cyber criminals may also pretend to be support professionals, like tech or customer support agents from Telegram or other seemingly legitimate companies. They’ll send urgent messages to users about issues with their accounts and ask for sensitive data or payment details to quickly “fix” the problem. But this is just a tactic to get their hands on any data that will give them access to users’ private accounts.
4. Bot phishing
Telegram scammers use chatbots to do their dirty work, programming AI agents to talk with targets and extract personal information from them. The bot’s tone of voice may even sound like a legitimate support agent from a reputable organization, like a bank or subscription service.
After acquiring a victim’s phone number through Telegram, the bot will push through a convincing phishing call. During the call, it may ask for two-factor authentication information, banking passwords, and other personal data that scammers can use to hack user accounts.
In an impersonation scam (also known as a “friend-in-need” scam), a cyber criminal pretends to be someone their target knows, like a friend or family member. They’ll fake an emergency, like a car accident or health crisis, and say they need urgent help to prompt their target to act quickly. For example, they may ask for a money transfer or gift cards to pay for “car damage” or say they need personal data to access a health insurance policy.
How to identify a fake Telegram account
The best way to avoid a Telegram scam is by steering clear of conversations with the criminals who run them. Here’s how you can identify if someone on Telegram isn’t who they say they are.
Assess the profile: If a Telegram user’s bio or photo seems off, be wary of interacting with them. For example, Telegram fake profiles might have spelling errors or include a “catfish” photo that looks like a model’s headshot or a stock image.
Beware of odd messages: Watch out for strange or unknown accounts who contact you with tempting offers, urgent requests, or messages claiming to be someone you know, as these could be scammers. If you do receive any such messages, never share sensitive information. Also, if you’re unsure if an account truly belongs to someone you know, call the person directly to confirm.
Look for verification checkmarks: When a company reaches out to you on Telegram, check that they have a blue circle with a checkmark next to their profile name. This indicates that Telegram has verified their account. Even if a profile has a verification checkmark, proceed with caution nonetheless, especially if they ask for personal information. Never provide sensitive data (like financial information or login credentials), and never click on links or download files (which could contain malware).
What to do if you’re the target of a Telegram scam
If you accidentally fall into a scammer’s trap on Telegram, you need to take immediate action. Here’s what to do:
Gather evidence: Take screenshots of the conversations and the scammer’s Telegram profile.
Block fraudulent accounts and file a report: Block the scammer’s account and report the incident to Telegram via the platform @notoscam or by email at email@example.com.
Contact your financial institution: Call your bank and credit card issuers and explain that someone may have access to your personal information. Change your passwords and login information, and monitor your accounts for suspicious activity.
Notify the proper authorities: Report all fraud to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
How to not get scammed on Telegram
Enhance your digital security and stay vigilant on Telegram to prevent scammers from targeting your personal information. With these tips, you can ensure a safer experience with the app:
Protect accounts with multi-factor authentication: A scammer who gains access to your personal information won’t get far if you have multi-factor authentication. This is an extra layer of security that requires users to provide additional forms of identification, like a security code or fingerprint, before accessing an account or system. For added security, use IronVest’s biometric authentication tool, which uses a scan of your face as your form of ID.
Never share personal information: If someone on Telegram is asking for your personal info, they might have bad intentions. Never share your details through the platform or with a bot, even if the request seems legitimate. If you think there’s a real problem with one of your accounts or a friend may genuinely need your help, contact them using their verified information (like a business’s actual customer service line listed on their website or your friend’s previously confirmed phone number).
Don’t click on links or download files: Never open links or files on Telegram, especially from unknown or unconfirmed accounts. Even if the item appears legitimate, it could be a phishing tool. Scammers use these to direct you to sites that steal your data or get you to download malware on your device.
Chat safely with the help of IronVest
Ultimately, the Telegram app can be safe to use — as long as you take the proper security precautions about who you talk to and what information you share.
To help you increase your digital security and keep your information safe in messaging apps, use a masked mobile phone number and email address from IronVest. These keep your real addresses and numbers offline so that scammers never get your real contact information. Plus, when you use IronVest, your accounts are biometrically protected, making it impossible for defrauders who’ve grabbed your information to use it to enter your accounts.