The COVID-19 pandemic has led to high unemployment and an uncertain economy, making money tight for many people. Who wouldn’t be tempted by an opportunity to make several thousand dollars with only a small investment? No matter how much extra cash could be had, it’s a wise idea to ignore social media invitations to join a “Blessing Loom.” This pyramid scheme is causing many people to lose their hard-earned money. This is similar to the “Secret Sister” pyramid scheme that makes its rounds during the holidays. It has also been called a “Money Board” in some localities.
How the Scam Works
A direct message arrives though social media – most often Instagram or Facebook – by a friend, family member, or possibly a stranger. They invite you to join a “Blessing Loom.” The message explains that it’s an excellent opportunity to earn money while also “blessing others.”
With a small investment of about $100 paid through PayPal, Venmo, or another digital payment service, you can spread the wealth and see a huge return on the money you put in. All you need to do is recruit a few other people to invest. They will recruit even more people, and, as the circle widens, everyone makes loads of cash.
Sounds great, right? The trouble is that this is a pyramid scheme. It relies on recruiting new individuals to keep the scam afloat. Once people stop participating, the money supply stops as well. That leaves lots of disappointed people who lose the cash they initially invested.
How to Avoid Social Media Scams
Social media is a great place to connect with friends and family, but it is also a place where scammers and con artists lurk. Always stay informed and exercise caution.
- Stay alert to pyramid schemes. Pyramid schemes promise quick profits for recruiting others. Scammers prey on the desire to make a lot of money with very little effort. But remember, pyramid schemes are illegal in the United States and Canada.
- Be skeptical: Before you accept any offer on social media, do your research. Just because something appears to be fun and was shared by a friend, doesn’t mean there isn’t an inherent risk. Many of these offers include extravagant promises that aren’t kept.
- Monitor Friend Requests. Don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know. Also be wary of a second friend request from someone you are already connected with; the second profile may be an imposter trying to access your data and your friends list.
- Ask questions and research the offer before joining any business venture. What appears to be a legitimate investment could still be a pyramid scheme. Check business ratings and reviews on BBB.org and other search engines before agreeing to work with or invest in any company or individual.
For More Information
To learn more about pyramid scams, how they work, and how to spot them, see the BBB Tip: Avoiding Pyramid Schemes. You can also find general tips at BBB.org/AvoidScams and the Top 10 Ways to Avoid a Scam.
If you’ve been the victim of a scam, on social media or otherwise, report your experience on the BBB.org/ScamTracker. Your report can help others to stay informed and protected!
For more scams involving COVID-19, see BBB.org/coronavirus.