A 22-year-old Instagram and YouTube influencer named Kayla Massa has been arrested after allegedly convincing her followers to assist her in a fraud scheme, Quartz reports. Prosecutors say Massa posted on Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook using social engineering to tell her followers to DM her if they lived in New Jersey and wanted to make money.
When someone responded, Massa would offer to pay them to let her friend use their bank account to temporarily store some money as a tax write-off. She allegedly assured them it was legal, and told them to empty the account so they didn’t suspect she was trying to steal their money.
Once Massa and her associates had access to a victim’s bank account, they would allegedly deposit counterfeit money orders and fraudulent checks into the account and then withdraw it as cash. They would then block the victim on social media and leave them with an empty bank account. When the victim’s bank realized the money orders and checks were fraudulent, it would recall the money and the victim’s account would be thousands of dollars in the red.
Massa and her friends allegedly made $1.5 million using this technique, cashing 1,600 fraudulent checks and 600 forged or stolen money orders between May 2018 and February 2020. Most of the victims of the scam were young people, and some were minors.
Former Secret Service agent James Tomsheck told Quartz that everyone is vulnerable to social engineering, and technology facilitates this type of manipulation.
“The more our lives become digitized in one format or another, the more vulnerable we all are to any version of a fraud scheme,” Tomsheck said.
Ms Massa, who hails from southern New Jersey, used the handle “@Kayg0ldi.” She had about a hundred-thousand YouTube followers and three times that many Instagram followers, with whom she shared tips on hair care, fashion, and quick money schemes. Among her most recent posts after charges were filed was an expression of determination to “take all this and turn it into positivity.” One might think only besotted individuals would fall for this kind of scam, but in fact a surprising number of Ms Massa’s alleged victims were businesses.
You should immediately be suspicious when someone offers to help you make easy money on the internet, and you certainly shouldn’t take their word for it if they assure you the scheme is legal. New-school security awareness training can give your employees a healthy sense of skepticism so they can recognize when something is too good to be true. And it can also remind them that get-rich-quick isn’t really part of your business plan.