Warning Harlem: TikTok Is Becoming Scammers’ Favorite Platform

October 4, 2023

Careful, TikTok’ers. Not only are you being fed trash like how to shoplift and influencers trying to convince you something is safe, but since the TikTok Shop arrived in the U.S., users have been complaining about product scams.

With today’s sophisticated shopping scams, it’s not always clear whether a vendor is legitimate — especially when trying to snag the best deals.  So far, the roll call of Shop scams includes these ploys: online shopping scams, delivery scams and gift card scams. 

No, for the most part, those scams aren’t new, but they are effective. And they’re particularly efficient on TikTok because a third of that platform’s users are aged 18 to 24 – a demographic that hasn’t been exposed to social media scams like older Americans.

Forewarned is forearmed

ConsumerAffairs asked Darius Kingsley, head of Consumer Business Practices at Chase Bank, what anyone who’s on TikTok and new to scammania should know about these scams and how they can protect themselves.

Here’s what he had to offer:

Remember merchandise could be fake: “With the rise in social media shops and online marketplaces, be cautious with who you’re interacting with online,” Kingsley said.

“Scammers may take advantage of those scrolling social media and trick them into purchasing items that don’t actually exist, like concert tickets, cars from online auctions, or furniture for their new apartment. You may be asked to pay using Zelle, wires or gift cards, but don’t realize that once you send, you can’t get your money back.”


If you are the seller, don’t go off-platform to seal the deal. Scammers love trying to pull the wool over sellers’ eyes. Be prepared for a story or two about how your items would be perfect for a loved one, or they may ask you to send pictures or texts directly to them and off the platform and offer to close the sale offline.

Kingsley said that once you take that bait, the scammers can attempt to scam you with a link to send money or confirm your account info as a way to steal your information.

Verify seller and product validity: Scam deals often have a “too good to be true” quality about them, so always shop online from reputable stores. “Look up the seller’s website, social media channels and search for the products to make sure they actually exist,” Kingsley suggests. “Fraudsters may create fake seller webpages that may appear real, so do your due diligence.” 

Think before you click: Other lures that scammers use to get some of your personal data are online and social media quizzes or gift card giveaways. Usually built within them is some type of request for your birthdate/birthday or your mailing address or email address. Kingsley says that those may seem innocuous, but they may be taken and used for scammers’ financial gain.


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