There's a trend going on among social media influencers and celebrities like Jeffree Star and Cardi B where they do cash giveaway to their fans. As the COVID-19 pandemic has spread and opportunities to get out into the world and create content dwindles, these cash giveaways are a way to keep the fans engaged. Jeffree Star, a YouTuber with a billion-dollar makeup line , has been promoting cash giveaways weekly for the past month with the goal of giving away $35,000. Millionaire YouTuber David Dobrik regularly surprises fans with cash. Even Cash App itself runs a weekly cash giveaway on Fridays.
And, like all things that involve the precious junction between the internet and money, there's scammers trying to swindle people.
The grift is pretty simple. The scammer would create a false Cash App account in the celebrity's name. As fans of the celebrity drop their Cash App tag into the celebrity's tweet thread, the scammers get their contact info. They reach out to fans and tell them that they won some of that sweet free money, but that the fan would need to transfer a little bit of money to the scammer's account to "verify" the authenticity of the fan's account. The fan sends some money and the scammer disappears.
Satnam Narang, a researcher and engineer with cybersecurity firm Tenable , has been following this trend. "If you're asked to pay a fee to 'verify' yourself or make a 'donation,' it is a complete scam. Ignore the request and report the user. Legitimate organizations will never request a verification fee," Narang said in an email to Business Insider. "If you receive a message saying you've won a Cash App giveaway, and it includes a link to log in to your Cash App, it is almost certainly a phishing site."
Some scammers are skipping the whole celebrity identity scam and just announce fake cash giveaways to the world in an effort to get signal boosts to reach a wide number of people. From there, they have a rich field of potential victims to draw from. There have been criticisms of the Cash App, which is a peer-to-peer payment service, run by Jack Dorsey's Square, where the app does a poor job of educating its users on scams.