Telegram is an anonymous messaging app that is widely used for encrypted and private communications.
Telegram by itself isn’t a scam or a fraud. As long as you perform your own due diligence and proceed with caution in your interactions, the app is safe to use as a means of communication. However, the anonymity of the app is particularly enticing to scammers.
Why do scammers use Telegram?
From our investigative experience, scammers use Telegram for communication because it’s anonymous. Scammers can create a Telegram account with a fake identity or simply no identity. They don’t need to connect their account with a phone number or physical address so their identity could be virtually anyone.
What types of scams are common through Telegram?
There are so many different variations of online scams, and if a scammer has an opportunity to execute their scam, they’ll try it in any way they can. The most common scams we’ve seen originate from Telegram are:
- Ponzi schemes
- Identity theft
- Ransomware/malware attack
- Bitcoin or other cryptocurrency scams
How can you verify someone’s identity on Telegram?
If you need to verify the identity of someone on Telegram, whether it’s for investment purposes or another purpose, the first thing to look for is an address. If you’re communicating with a representative from a business organization, heavily scrutinize the address provided to you. Obviously, it may be difficult to travel to a faraway location, but there are online methods you can use for verification.
Call the building where the business is located
Many of these scammers will pick a random commercial address from Google Maps and use it as their address, hoping no one picks up on the fact that they’re not actually there. To avoid this, go to the business’s website and call the number where it’s supposed to be located, and ask if this business is located within this building. If so, ask to be transferred and speak to someone in the company. If the business is not located in the building, or the receiver is not familiar with this business, this is a red flag of a scam.
Additionally, you could also contact another business that is located in the same building to ask them if this company actually exists down the hall or if they’ve never heard of it before.
Hire a third party to visit the address
Look into mobile companies in the area such as a quarrier mobile notary or an uber driver to see if someone would be willing to visit the address to verify the business’s existence. This might cost $40-$50, but it’s worth the investment to avoid being scammed.
Be cautious when communicating through Telegram and check the consumer protection tips available on the app and website. Never give out personal information to anyone online, especially if you cannot verify their identity.