Scammers have been preying on consumers who express their dissatisfaction with customer service on the popular social media platform, X, formerly known as Twitter. With the platform’s account verification process undergoing changes, individuals who complain are now at higher risk of falling victim to phishing Blue-Tick Scam. These imposters pose as customer service agents, operating under fake X handles, and employ tactics to deceive unsuspecting users into providing their sensitive banking information in exchange for promised refunds.
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Evolution of X Verification:
Previously, the blue checkmark icon on X signified an officially verified account. However, this year, X introduced changes that allowed anyone to purchase the icon for a monthly fee of £11 under their subscription service, now renamed X Premium.
Additionally, businesses opting for the £950 monthly plan are granted a gold tick. Unfortunately, it is unclear whether subscriber accounts undergo any form of vetting according to X’s Blue-Tick Scam terms and conditions.
Real-Life Twitter Blue-Tick Scam :
Andrew Thomas, who tried to obtain a refund from Booking.com for cancelled holiday flights, received a response from a scam account via X. Desperate to resolve the issue, he followed their instructions and provided his contact number via direct message. The Blue-Tick Scam then called him through WhatsApp, requesting his reference number for investigation purposes. Later, they prompted him to download a suspicious app promising a refund. Sensing something was amiss, Thomas examined the X profile and noticed a discrepancy in the Twitter handle’s format, as well as the account’s recent creation date in July 2023.
Further investigation revealed that the WhatsApp caller ID originated from Kenya. Thomas later discovered other fake Booking.com Twitter accounts targeting frustrated customers seeking refunds through X.
Recommended Safety Measures from Booking.com:
After intervention by The Guardian, Booking.com refunded Thomas and attributed the delays to the airline. Booking.com spokesperson highlighted the importance of customers contacting their official customer service team for any doubts about the legitimacy of requests.
If consumers choose to use X, they must verify whether they are interacting with the company’s verified account, recognizable by the gold badge indicating authenticity.
Exploiting Consumer Guide Advice:
Blue-Tick Scam capitalize on the common advice provided in consumer guides, encouraging individuals to complain publicly on X for expedited resolutions. The cybercriminals preyed on passengers whose easyJet and BA flights were cancelled, targeting them through fake profiles on X when they demanded refunds. Both airlines, easyJet and BA, acknowledged reporting fraudulent accounts to Twitter X. In fact, BA took the additional measure of pinning a tweet alerting users to the presence of these fake accounts.
Bank Customers at Risk:
Bank customers, specifically those using Metro Bank, have received texts from fraudulent customer service agents after the bank encouraged online feedback. In one unfortunate case, a company fell victim to such a scam (Blue-Tick Scam), losing a staggering £9,200.
Expert Advice and Call to Action:
Consumer law expert Lisa Webb, representing the campaign organization warns that recent changes to X’s verification process have made it more challenging for users to identify trustworthy accounts. She advises individuals to ensure they’re interacting with a company’s official account and, if in doubt, to reach out to the company directly through their official website.
Webb also emphasizes the urgency for the government to expedite the passing of the online safety bill in parliament, stating that it must deliver robust consumer protection measures against the growing influx of online fraud impacting major social media platforms and search engines.
Consumers must remain vigilant against the threat of blue-tick scam operating on X. By incorporating necessary safety measures and adhering to expert advice, individuals can protect themselves from falling victim to these fraudulent schemes. It is crucial that government regulations prioritize the safety and security of online users, addressing the rampant online fraud present on platforms such as X.
What is the new strategy scammers are using on social media platform X?
Scammers(Blue-Tick Scam) are targeting users who complain about customer service on platform X, posing as fake customer service agents. They deceive users into providing sensitive information by promising refunds. These imposters create fake accounts and manipulate users through messages and calls.
How has the verification process on platform X changed?
Previously, the blue checkmark indicated verified accounts. Now, X allows users to buy the verification icon through the X Premium subscription, with gold ticks for businesses. The vetting process for subscriber accounts is unclear, raising concerns about authenticity.
Can you share a real-life Blue-Tick Scam experience involving platform X?
Andrew Thomas sought a refund from Booking.com and was targeted by a scam account on X. The scammers instructed him via direct message, then called through WhatsApp, asking for sensitive details and requesting app downloads. Thomas spotted discrepancies and reported the Blue-Tick Scam.
How did Booking.com respond to the scam incident?
After The Guardian’s intervention, Booking.com refunded Thomas and urged users to contact official customer service. They stressed verifying the gold badge on the X profile to ensure authenticity.
Why are scammers exploiting consumer guides’ advice?
Scammers prey on passengers who complain on X for quicker resolutions, as suggested by consumer guides. They target users, especially those affected by flight cancellations, with fake profiles to deceive and defraud.
How are banks, like Metro Bank, affected by these scams?
Metro Bank customers who provided online feedback were targeted by fraudulent agents via text. Some businesses suffered substantial losses due to falling victim to such scams.
How can users safeguard themselves from falling victim to scams on platform X?
Users should verify the authenticity of accounts through gold badges and official websites. Be cautious of requests for sensitive information or app downloads. Follow expert advice and refrain from sharing personal information hastily.
What action have airlines like EasyJet and BA taken against these scams?
Both airlines acknowledge the presence of fake accounts targeting users seeking refunds. BA even pinned a tweet to alert users about such accounts, aiming to raise awareness and prevent further victims.
Why is government intervention necessary in this scenario?
Government intervention is crucial to pass an online safety bill that provides robust consumer protection measures. This is essential to counter the rising wave of online fraud on major social media platforms and search engines, ensuring the safety of online users.