Telegram Fraud: A Rising Concern in 2023

Updated: 2023.04.06
Reading Time: 6 minutes
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Threat actors are consistently looking for new ways to exploit consumers and businesses. Today’s online communication channels, such as social media and messaging apps, have recently become a prime target for many scammers. One cyber threat trend that has been increasing is the issue of Telegram fraud. 

Telegram is an online messaging app that has become increasingly popular with people who want to chat securely with enhanced privacy and encryption. This app has gained popularity over the past few years, which has also made it a prime location for scammers and hackers to target users with their malicious activities.

This type of fraud has been gaining traction across the globe, forcing countries to implement public alerts and legal restrictions regarding the use of this app to commit cybercrimes. In this article, we’ll cover what this fraud is, how it works, why it’s so alluring to criminals, and how you can prevent this fraud in order to better protect your business.

What is Telegram Fraud?

Telegram fraud refers to any malicious or deceitful activity that takes place on the Telegram messaging app. This is due in part to the cross-messaging capabilities and user anonymity of the app. It can make unsuspecting users easy targets for criminals to defraud. By using a form of social engineering, criminals use either bots or people to facilitate human interaction with the goal of deceiving people into doing something they wouldn’t normally do.

The types of fraud conducted on the app can often include financial scams, phishing attempts, and other types of activity targeting users to provide their personally identifiable information (PII). These types of activities done by criminals on the app are designed to trick users into giving away their information, money, or other valuable data and assets. It is ultimately a quick, easy, and successful way for threat actors to steal valuable data from consumers and businesses.

How Threat Actors Use Telegram to Conduct Fraud

Threat actors are often looking for innovative ways to steal data from people, and Telegram has made that opportunity easier than ever before. Most of the ways that criminals use Telegram in order to conduct fraud do so by creating fake profiles. Criminals do this in order to social engineer others along with executing a multitude of additional tactics. These efforts are done with the goal of having users provide these imposters their PII or other sensitive data to steal. Some of these common tactics that threat actors use Telegram to conduct fraud include:

Phishing Scams

Threat actors often execute their phishing scams by creating fake websites or login pages for users. They can do so by spoofing popular service websites such as banking, cryptocurrency exchanges, or other financial institutions. Then they can send those links to these pages through Telegram messages and ask users to provide their account credentials. Once criminals have this information, they can then use it to access those accounts to steal money from the victim’s account along with their data.

Fake Accounts & Activity

There are a lot of cybercriminals that utilize Telegram by the means of using fake accounts or stolen identity information in order to conduct their scams. These fake profiles can then also utilize the app to create fake channels and groups for unsuspecting users to join and participate in. These profiles can also create fake job postings and classified ads to lure users to interact and provide their data to them. Once that information has been provides then can then use it create more imposter accounts, steal identities, and conduct other types of scams found on Telegram.

Malware Deployment

Threat actors may use Telegram to distribute malware, such as ransomware, to other users. From there criminals can then send a link to an imposter website or attach a malicious file to a message. Then once the link is clicked or the attachment is opened it can then gain unauthorized access and infect the user’s device successfully. This method can also be used to steal PII from the victims or possibly hold digital devices at ransom.

Investment Scams

Threat actors often use Telegram to steal money is by promoting fake cryptocurrency investing opportunities. These criminals can create fake investment groups or messaging channels that promise high returns on your investment with little or no risk. Once users have invested, the malicious actors disappear, leaving their victims with both minimal or no real way to recover their lost funds.

Charity Scams

Similar to investment scams, threat actors can also use Telegram to promote fake charity initiatives and solicit donations from unsuspecting users. These criminals often will pose as a reputable charity organization and ask for donations through Telegram messages. However, the donations given to the organization are then pocketed by the criminals. These charity funds raised then never arrive at the intended cause or organization.

Telegram Fraud: What Threat Actors Find Appealing

Many individuals often ponder what makes Telegram users an easy target for scams. Aside from the popularity of the app, one of the main reasons Telegram and other online messaging apps have made fraud activity appealing to criminals is how quick and easy it can be to steal money.

While messaging apps have made it better for us to connect socially, it has also opened the door for thieves to steal from consumers and businesses without much recourse. Some other reasons why Telegram fraud can be appealing to threat actors include:

  • It is borderless – this app is driven by being an international messaging platform. Therefore, it can be easier to connect with someone in a country or region successfully. This can allow cybercriminals to commit their schemes to victims not even from the same area that they may be in currently.
  • Users can remain anonymous – the app is also focused on anonymity and end-to-end encryption messaging, which allows users to create anonymous accounts. It can make it challenging for law enforcement to identify and arrest the perpetrators. This anonymity provides a safe haven for cybercriminals to engage in their fraudulent activities without the fear or retribution of being caught.
  • It is user-friendly – Telegram is ultimately a user-friendly app that focuses on cross-platform messaging. This can make users from other platforms that may not already use Telegram subjected to these attempted scams as well as regular Telegram users. This is due in part to the assumed identities and fake profiles stolen and used through Telegram.
  • Scams are easy to execute – conducting scams on Telegram is relatively easy for many threat actors. They can either execute the deployment of several of the types of scams done on the app, or they can employ the use of an OTP bot or other AI-generated bot to message users quickly.
  • It provides a quick return – on top of being easy to execute, the scams run through Telegram can be simple and easy to do with a quick monetary return. 

Preventing Telegram Fraud

It can seem challenging to fully avoid Telegram fraud these days. However, there are several measures that users can take in order to help prevent Telegram fraud. The following is a list of five ways you can be proactive and prevent Telegram fraud.

1. Ensure you verify the person communicating with you on the app – this is especially the case if they are asking or pushing for you to share your information; this could be a red flag that they are a scammer.

2. Avoid exchanging your PII, if possible – by doing this, it can help ensure you keep your data safe and secure.

3. Refrain from clicking any links that are sent through the app – This can prevent phishing scams and malware deployment from accessing your devices.

4. Protect your account from unauthorized access – You can utilize multi-factor authentication to ensure greater account security.

5. Report suspicious activity – reporting any suspicious accounts or activity you see on the app can help mitigate Telegram fraud issues more successfully.

As Telegram fraud continues to be a trend in 2023, taking measures to avoid any suspicious activity will be key. When protecting yourself from Telegram fraud, it is essential to be cautious when interacting with unfamiliar connections or groups. You should always verify the identity of the person or organization you are communicating with on the app.

Additionally, avoid clicking on links or downloading files from unknown sources that may be sent to you via the app. In general, with the use of strong passwords and multi-factor authentication with help safeguard your Telegram account from unauthorized access attempts.

How Flare Supports Monitoring Applications Like Telegram

Flare provides automation scanning protection for you by monitoring hundreds of malicious Telegram channels across the globe. It can conduct a deep crawl of the dark web and identify criminal communities found on apps like Telegram. Flare will then display a ranked incident list that shows where the requested search terms appeared on Telegram and other messaging applications.

With all the Telegram scams increasing as the usage of this messaging app grows, it can be critical to secure your system and data more effectively. Schedule a demo with us today.

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Yuzuka Akasaka

Senior Content Manager

Author Description: Yuzuka developed her copywriting skills through several years of content marketing and coaching + editing writing for students, journalists, C-suite leaders, local government officials, peers, and more. As Flare’s Senior Content Marketing Manager, Akasaka engages cybersecurity professionals by creating and promoting interesting content about Flare’s capabilities and original cybersecurity research.