TikTok has been inundated by a slew of scammers seeking to take advantage of its quickly growing userbase, which surpassed 1 billion downloads in February 2019.
Security firm Tenable has discovered scammers are leveraging old tactics to get users to sign up for adult services, impersonate popular social media personalities, and artificially boost likes and follower counts.
“Given TikTok’s meteoric rise in popularity, it comes as no surprise that scammers would take notice,” wrote Tenable researcher Satnam Narang in a blog post. “So far, these scams appear to be in their infancy.”
To get users to sign up for such adult sites, the scammers steal videos from popular Instagram and Snapchat accounts, featuring women dancing, working out, and performing other day-to-day activities. Using this approach, the scammers can benefit from cost-per-action and cost-per-install adult networks which reward affiliate accounts for bringing new users.
According to the report, the average scam account has about 650 followers and 1,744 likes across videos, with the most successful account scoring “34,000 likes across their videos and […] over 12,300 followers.” The researchers note that many of the flagged accounts have since been removed by TikTok.
“We expect these scam activities to only increase as TikTok continues to dominate the Apple App Store marketplace,” the researcher added.”
TikTok has been killing it recently, which would explain why scammers are targeting the platform.
Indeed, data analytics firm SensorTower recently noted that it was the second most popular social media app in July 2019, clocking 53.5 million installs in the period of a month. It was also the third highest-grossing video sharing app in the second quarter of 2019.
In the meantime, Narang has detailed the suspicious activity in two parts. You can find the first part here and the second part here to get the full picture.