Image source: Garmin

Exercising caution: Scams thriving in fitness communities

Most likely, you haven’t heard of fitness app scams. But they do exist. Some users are exposed to significant financial loss as a result of fraudsters taking advantage of the tight-knit communities that these apps foster.

Mobile apps and fitness trackers provide more than just a way to keep track of physical activity. They have developed into social networking sites with interactive features that enable users to connect with friends and other fitness enthusiasts and foster a sense of community around common health and wellness objectives. However, this camaraderie has turned into a haven for con artists, who are using methods frequently related to romance fraud to prey on gullible victims.

How fraudsters operate

According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), these frauds frequently begin innocently. An app user who joins a fitness group might get cordial messages from other group members. Initial discussions are focused around fitness objectives, but over time, the topic gradually shifts to something more personal. In order to establish trust and create what appears to be a genuine connection, scammers ask for information about the user’s family, place of employment, and hobbies.

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Once a bond has been fostered, the con artist shares fabricated personal accounts in an effort to win the victim over and secure their support. One user described a fraudster who pretended to be a father working abroad to support his daughter. The victim was pestered for more money after sending it once, and when she refused, the con artist threatened her. The tragic loss of $100,000 by this person highlights the damaging potential of these scams.

How to protect yourself

How can fitness app users guard against becoming a target of these scams? The BBB suggests several safety measures. First of all, it discourages using private photos as profile pictures. As a substitute, you should use free stock images or avatars as protection. This is a helpful deterrent because scammers frequently target particular groups, such as the senior community.​

Second, the BBB advises against giving out personal information to strangers, such as employment and marital status. The easier it is for a con artist to manipulate a user’s identity and finances, the more information about the user they have.​

Finally, users are urged to utilise caution when accepting friend requests from people they don’t know. While taking part in these communities can be rewarding, there are risks involved. Connecting only with people you already know is the safest move.

Keep in mind that it is always advisable to exercise caution when dealing with your personal information. This also pertains to fitness apps.

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Marko Maslakovic

Marko founded Gadgets & Wearables in 2014, having worked for more than 15 years in the City of London’s financial district. Since then, he has led the company’s charge to become a leading information source on health and fitness gadgets and wearables.

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