The LGBT+ community is being specifically targeted by a phishing scam on Twitter, social media users have warned.
One Twitter user explained: “This makes me sad since money is often sent around due to the poverty our community faces. I see posts from queer people asking for money daily. I know so many of you are generous. Which is great. But it can be used against us.
“In short, I can only assume that the queer community has a high rate of circulation of money. This makes us a viable target for phishing attempts. It seems this was also a bigotry-motivated choice to target the queer community. So let’s prevent this.”
The scammers, impersonating LGBT+ people, send direct messages to queer Twitter users following a specific pattern.
If you say yes theyll say either "I have to put my baby sister to sleep" or "Im driving" or something similar.
Then theyll say something about only eating biscuits and they just need money for a hot meal.
Just go ahead and try it, you'll see they have a script
— Jasmine('s boobs hurt) (@Ranting_Trans) August 22, 2021
They first say they need to ask a question which could be “taken the wrong way”. When they receive a response, they claim they are driving or busy with another task, before asking for money to be transferred via PayPal.
One Twitter user, who realised the messages were a phishing scam, revealed that the scammer turned aggressive when called out, and began hurling homophobic slurs.
9/ I ran the same ruse on the second account they sent and they ran out of patience. My fun was over with a bit of poorly targeted slurs. pic.twitter.com/dGvJ562Y7T
— jorin 💤 💜 (@YawningJorin) April 20, 2021
Scammers ‘making it harder for people who legitimately need help’
Hundreds of queer social media users, some of whom had already lost money to the phishing scam, circulated the warning and expressed their frustration.
One wrote: “They’re the absolute worst, making it harder for people who legitimately need help.”
“So many people actually need help and post links and it’s just really disheartening to know that because of folks like this people will be a lot more sceptical of them,” said another.
A third suggested that those who want to help others within their community donate to charities instead, to avoid being scammed.
“We don’t really give money to people we don’t personally know at this point because we’ve been scammed a couple times by this sort of thing,” they wrote.
“Which is frustrating because obviously we want to help our community, so instead we donate to LGBT+ charities.”
According to Citizens Advice, if you are in the UK and have transferred money to a scammer, you should report this to the police by calling 101 and to Action Fraud, the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud. In the US, it can be reported to the Federal Trade Commission here.
Although spotting scams can be difficult, scammers will often claim to be someone official, like a bank or government agency, tell you to take action with a sense of urgency, for example “within 24 hours”, play on your emotions, or exploit current events to make the scam seem legitimate.
It is helpful to keep a record of all details of the scam, including the names, phone numbers, or addresses of people who have contacted you, the information you have shared, and whether you have paid any money.