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Case Studies

Snapchat account takeover warning

Criminals are targeting Snapchat users, taking over accounts and trying to extort money sometimes threatening to reveal private photos, warn police.

The criminals start by contacting you over Snapchat, often from an account that has already been hacked so it can appear to be someone you know. The stories that fraudsters tell vary; they may claim to be a friend who is locked out of, or needs help with their account, or that there’s been an incident and that they need money to help. They may claim they want to add you to a friends list or “circle” and need your details to add you.

The stories change but the methods used by fraudsters’ remain the same; their aim is to trick you in to handing over control of your account and access to your details, contacts & photos. The intent of the crime varies, some fraudsters use a compromised account to ask for money, (by sending messages to contacts claiming there is an emergency and asking friends to help out. Others want to access the victims private photos and demand money to stop them being published. A compromised account can then also be used to hack other accounts.


A common fraud is when a friend or mutual friend contacts someone on social media (Snapchat or Instagram for example) asking for the their email address and phone number so they can add them to their “circles” In some instances this is in order to like or vote for their “make up albums” or promote their business.

The fraudster will then ask for a code that gets sent to the victims’ phone which they claim is a unique voting code or allows them to add the victim to their circle. This is a lie. The code is actually an account reset code that allows the fraudster to gain control of the victims account. These codes are legitimately used, for example if you want to change your phone number or email address for your Snapchat account, Snapchat will send a code to your registered number to confirm that it is you making the request. Instagram & WhatsApp have similar processes in place. Criminals are trying to get around this security process. Never share this code.

It is also common for the victim to be asked to add the criminals email address to their snapchat account under the guise that this allows them access to their “circle.” In reality it makes it easier for the fraudster to take over the victims account and makes is harder for the victim to get the account back!

How to protect yourself

If you receive a suspicious or unexpected message from a friend or “mutual” on social media, contact them via other means to check the message is genuine.
Always double check friend requests and don’t accept them from people you don’t know. Don’t give your login details (email and password) to anyone. Only enter your login details on the official website or app. And consider a strong password.



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