If you have even a nodding acquaintance with pop culture then you will probably know who Robert Pattinson is. The English actor has seemingly been in the public eye since he was a teenager, starring in iconic films like the “Twilight” series and the “Water for Elephants”, among many others. Known for his good looks and acting talent, Pattinson has accumulated a fairly sizable social media following, currently standing at around 34.5 million followers on Instagram alone. Unsurprisingly, this has made him a popular target for scammers and phishers. One such group has even created a special Twitter account solely to dupe and defraud people like Pattinson.

New Account Set Up To Trick Celebrities

The creator of this account, identified by cybersecurity firm SophiCOS by the pseudonym “Hanjuan Pei”, claimed to MediaWeek that he or she set up the parody account to “entertain viewers with content relating to current events and humorous anecdotes”. Pei further justified the existence of his or her account by noting that “social media is a goldmine when it comes to harvesting sensitive information”, adding that they created the account “to show how easy it is to find and exploit celebrities’ personal data”. The account was immediately suspended by Twitter after being reported to the platform by a user claiming to be a victim of a Twitter hack.

Why Are These Accounts Scamming Celebrities?

The answer, as MediaWeek discovered, is money. In recent years social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook have become incredibly lucrative businesses. With more and more people using social media platforms to connect with friends, engage with followers and follow news stories, businesses have wised up and started to monetize these services aggressively. People are motivated to scam celebrities not only because it’s easy money, but also because they want to be famous. The people behind these scams know exactly what will make their target celebrities famous again and they’re willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen.

Why Are These Accounts Targeting Celebrities?

Pei, the creator of the “Devil All the Time” account, admitted that they focused on well-known and popular public figures because they “would be easier to trick”. When asked if they would ever target someone less well-known, Pei replied: “We are focused on global figures for a number of reasons…First, so that our techniques and approaches are as fresh as possible. Second, so that our scam is as good as possible. Third, to maximise the effect of our scam”. Although the account has only been active for a few days, it has already amassed a sizeable following, prompting the question: why aren’t more famous people, including myself, falling for this trick? Is it because we’re all too cautious or simply because we don’t owe these people anything?

How Can YouTell If An Account Is Scamming You?

As with most things, there is a simple way to tell if an account is scammers and a more complex way to catch them red-handed. First, you can check the IP address of the account in question. Most fraudulent accounts will appear to be originating from countries like China and Vietnam where Internet regulations are lax and/or filtering is commonplace. You can also check the browser information used to access the account – commonly used browsers like Chrome and Firefox include a unique identifier called a “user agent” that can help verify the identity of the user. Another method that has gained a lot of popularity in recent years is verifying the account via SMS. When an account is created the owner will usually have to choose a verification method, most commonly a six-digit number that is texted to the account. While this might not seem like a serious security risk, the fact that it is a common practice makes it open to “Trojan horse” style attacks that trick users into thinking they’re actually getting something useful when in reality they’re doing the grunt work for a hacker. The best thing you can do for yourself is to ignore these types of scams, especially if you’re not thinking about sharing any personal information.

What Should You Do If You Are Victim Of A Scam?

If you believe that you’ve been the victim of a scam, or even if you’re just suspicious of an account that has tricked you into revealing information, you should contact the account owner and ask them to verify their identity. Once they have, you can resume normal communication with them, reminding them that while you had a pleasant interaction with them, you must now consider the interaction fraudulent.

To prevent yourself from being tricked in the future, be sure to log off of any social media accounts that you aren’t using for important business or personal reasons. If you want to keep tabs on your social media platforms, set up automated notifications so that you’re informed whenever someone tries to trick you or see your personal information. Keep in mind that while these types of scams are certainly annoying, fraudulent accounts will not hurt you in any way (except for the annoyance factor). Ultimately, if you play it cool and continue to ignore them, chances are they’ll eventually give up and go away. Letting your guard down for even a second and responding to a fake account with real information gives the scam artist the opportunity to steal from you and it could put you in serious danger. If this happens, then it’s your fault for not taking the time to verify the account. Once you do, you can report the identity theft to the authorities and request a full investigation. It’s better to be safe than sorry.