Elissa Kaufman, digital news producer at CBS Chicago.

CHICAGO (CBS) – “Comment below and tag three friends” is your chance to win free items from your favorite brands on Instagram. It also becomes a quick and easy way for scammers to get information about Instagram users.

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Hoping to reach his followers, Cory Page Designs, a New York-based designer who sells merchandise in three Chicago stores, posted a Valentine’s Day gift on Instagram. A winner will be chosen from the comments section.

However, many hopeful followers woke up to a direct message from the account that looked like @coreypaige_designs. The fake account told the “winners” that they would receive the promised gift if they signed up for the streaming service and sent a screenshot of the verification page by the deadline.

Corey Paige Designs

A credit card was required to sign up for a promising streaming service of “free music and movies for a year” on what appeared to be a sponsored website. The deal suggested that the creator’s brand was connected to the streaming service, when in reality it was a ploy to obtain credit card information from trusted followers.

“As soon as I heard about this, I did my best to report the account and contact Instagram,” Corey Paige told CBS 2. “I hope this can serve as a warning to those outside the Corey Paige Designs community to be aware of these types of accounts and only share information with those they know.

Corey Paige Designs

The creator posted a warning on her Instagram post, asking her followers to report the fake account.

Corey Page said the scam was disappointing because Instagram was a solid platform for doing business during the pandemic and even for many Illinois customers.

“It’s very disappointing that fake or spammy Instagram accounts are impersonating me and contacting my followers,” Corey Page told CBS 2. “Not only does it affect my brand, but I would never want to be the reason a follower gives private information to someone.

She’s not alone. A Chicago resident sent in a screenshot of a similar scam she received on Instagram after commenting on the gift in hopes of winning a free blow dryer brush.

In the screenshot you can see that the same scammer strategy was used. Fortunately, the link was not opened and the bill for the fake hair product was reported.

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Corey Page confirmed that the fake account has been removed. She said hundreds of her followers had reported the account and the action was taken only after they went through a representative on Facebook’s business chat.

CBS Chicago has contacted Instagram to find out if steps are being taken to track down the crooks, but is still waiting for a response.

According to the Better Business Bureau, social media fraud has increased and most victims are between the ages of 18 and 24. The 25-34 age group is the second largest victim. In December, the BBB published information on how to spot a fraudulent Instagram gif. Scammers try to collect “likes” for a post or page, and then create “malware links” in the posts. This includes counterfeit products sold by fraudulent accounts.

BBB has stated that an account selling products with little or no content is a “big red flag.” A verification check, or blue check mark, is one way to make sure the account is genuine. According to the BBB’s “Top Scammers of 2020,” online shopping scams were the most common scams of the year. These included fake websites that led to fake purchases.

You can report cases of fraud through the BBB Scambler.

Here’s how to spot these Instagram scams:

First, the fake account had a slightly different login name than the original Corey Page account. The scammers added an “s” to the name, a minor change to fool users. Upon investigation, there appeared to be no display on the account profile, although the same logo was used on the profile picture. (See photo below).

Before proceeding, it is important to check your Instagram profile for any further inconsistencies. The actual @coreypaige_designs had over 2,000 posts, including the original “giveaway” posts. The fake account, as predicted by BBB, had no posts.

In addition, a brand may not require a credit card for a “gift.” If a credit card is required, it is important to contact the originating company.

PLUS: An LAPD officer accused of stealing a car from a dealer and driving it for more than a year.

Once you have determined that an account is fake or a threat, the last step is to block and report the user. According to Instagram, “When you block someone, they can no longer see your profile.

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