Reddit feels like a breath of fresh air compared to the rest of the Internet.
It has a simple, straightforward design without all the clutter that surrounds most sites. You can find endless hours of information, entertainment, and conversation about almost anything you find interesting. Plus, it’s all free — there aren’t even very many ads.
But do you know what really makes Reddit feel different? It’s authentic.
When you go on Reddit, it’s full of real people offering their honest, unvarnished opinions. Most other sites serve crafted and curated content, sometimes with a tiny comments section at the bottom.
Reddit is just the opposite — the comments are the content. What’s fun and valuable about Reddit is hearing what normal people (not just authors or influencers) think about an issue, whether it’s lawn care, movies, or international politics.
The fact that Reddit feels like an extensive discussion between friends is great—but it comes with a hidden risk. And because of the nature of Reddit, many people overlook or ignore that risk…and face terrible consequences as a result.
Reddit scams are a real and growing problem — anyone who uses Reddit, whether constantly or occasionally, is at risk. But even people who rarely use Reddit could become victims too.
That’s why everyone needs to be aware of Reddit scams—how to spot them, avoid them, and recover from them. We cover all that in the following article.
Want to shut down scammers or fraudsters and their schemes? Keep reading.
What is Reddit?
Photo by Brett Jordan
Reddit is a social media site with a substantial user base. There were over 1 billion registered users, 1.7 monthly visitors, and 100,000 active communities on Reddit as of 2023.
Those active communities are known as “subreddits.” Each is focused on a specific topic: funny videos, NBA basketball, cookie recipes – you name it.
After joining the site, you subscribe to subreddits that interest you. People make posts within those subreddits, sparking discussion (often lengthy and something heated) between subscribers and, in many cases, visitors too.
It feels a lot like a smart, friendly debate between like-minded people who care a lot about some subject. That makes Reddit a great place to find people with similar interests who are eager to explore the finer points of whatever you care about.
From casual enthusiasts to absolute obsessives, Reddit attracts just about anyone, making it one of the best places online for information and discussion.
Reddit was created in 2005 by two college roommates. The concept was an instant success, steadily attracting users, but the growth of Reddit has been explosive in recent years.
Users created 2.7 billion pieces of content there in 2019. By 2021, it had more than doubled to 5.7 billion.
Similarly, 199 million active users in 2015 and 430 million by 2019.
The numbers make it clear: People are flocking to Reddit. Unfortunately, scammers are too.
What are Reddit Scams?
Any scam that takes advantage of Reddit to find victims, spread lies, or send malicious links, or phishing falls under the definition of a Reddit scam.
How big is this problem? Reddit doesn’t reveal how many scams it learns about. Plus, many people who fall for scams on social media keep it to themselves. So we don’t know how bad the problem is, but we know it’s getting worse.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, scams that started on social media accounted for $134 million in total losses in 2019. In just the first six months of 2020, however, scammers stole $117 million through social media.
That suggests they’re targeting sites like Reddit more often. Even worse, the scams are working more often, snaring more victims and stealing larger sums.
Like wild animals that discover a plentiful food source, scammers will repeatedly return to the same target for as long as it makes them money. That’s why Reddit scams are common and growing.
But the reason Reddit scams work so well is the same reason people like the website in the first place: it feels honest and authentic. People trust one another. Most of the time, that leads to deep discussion and organic community building—both great things.
But trust can also be misplaced. And on Reddit, it’s possible to place that trust squarely in a scammer—and then things go from bad to worse.
Avoiding this fate starts by understanding the basics of these scams. The next section will cover some common examples. You’ve probably seen them on Reddit before…but did you know it was actually a scam?
See for yourself.
Common Types of Reddit Scams
Photo by Erik Mclean
The sky is the limit when it comes to Reddit scams. The nature of the platform, where people can post and comment whatever they want (within reason) and send direct messages to whoever they choose, means that scams can take just about any form. The criminals running the scam are only bound by their creativity.
But you know what? They’re not that creative.
Reddit scammers tend to use the same strategies over and over again. That’s good news because it gives you some familiar patterns to look for. If you come across one of the examples below, there’s a high probability it’s a fraud or scam. Be very careful.
How to Identify Scams on Reddit?
Photo by Brett Jordan
Remember: Reddit scams can take many forms, and they have many ways to hide the red flags. You may not be able to spot one of these scams—even if you know what to look for, watch carefully for awareness or warning signs, and do everything right.
No prevention is 100% perfect. Just like all scams, Reddit scams will never go away or stop working. That said, you’re much less likely to become a target or a victim if you know how to spot Reddit scams. Keep the list below on your radar. And if any of these come up, be extremely careful and strongly consider ending contact immediately. The sooner you disengage with scams, the better.
So how do you avoid them…especially when they’re trying too hard to get your attention?
You should alter your browsing habits slightly. You may want to take some proactive measures as well. But you don’t need to avoid reading, posting, or commenting on Reddit. Just take these common-sense precautions around the site:
How to Recover from Reddit Scam?
Let’s start with something tough but important to hear: You probably aren’t going to recover the money you lost to a Reddit scam. You probably aren’t going to figure out who was behind the scam. And you probably won’t ever see that person brought to justice or punished for what they did, either.
But that doesn’t mean you’re powerless.
Second, immediately stop all contact with the scammer. Send them no further money, information, or updates. Do not announce your intention to cut them off. And resist the urge to send them threats or insults (even if it’s very tempting). You keep yourself safer and start the recovery process sooner by ending contact now. Be prepared to ignore repeated messages from scammers trying to get you to reengage.
Finally, if you get wrapped up in a Reddit scam or any scam, strongly consider getting identity theft protection. Unfortunately, the damage happens repeatedly for many people who get scammed, and the problem gets worse before it gets better. If one scammer has your details or knows you’re a target, other scammers probably also have this intel. You need to be on guard. And with identity theft protection such as Aura in your corner, future scammers will have a much harder time than the scammer who started this all.
The Internet is where most scams start these days, and social media sites like Reddit are ground zero. In a subreddit focused on your favorite niche, surrounded by people with similar interests, it’s easy to let your guard down and trust the wrong people as a result. It’s also easy to avoid the vast majority of Reddit scams—all you need is the information outlined in the sections above. Commit it to memory, put it into practice – and you become the kind of person scammers wish they never messed with.