10 Common Online Scams Targeting Teenagers

Last Updated on January 19, 2024 by Lori Pace

We live in the liberal age, where kids get their first smartphone at a very tender age. While there are many advantages that accrue from teenagers accessing the internet, the dangers prevail. In fact, their innocence, naivety, and lack of exposure to real-world problems make them prime targets for most online scams. Whether through online gaming or social media accounts, they are just one click away from falling into a trap. 

In this blog post, we’ll talk about some common online scams targeting teenagers.

Group of Teenagers


This is a situation where the fraudster disguises themselves as a trustworthy individual to scam people. A common scenario is when scammers set up fake pages on social media or websites for charity groups to solicit funds from unsuspecting benevolent people. Teenagers easily fall victim as they are more excited about the ability to do good, like feeding a hungry child in a remote village or saving a stray dog.

If the person who reached out to you mentioned their full name or phone number, look them up on Nuwber, a people search engine, to verify their identity.

Fake Contests

Online scammers know all too well that teenagers are eager to try new things and like to challenge themselves. Contests sponsored by well-known brands have become common online. However, it’s important to learn how to tell the difference between fake and genuine ones. 

Scammers usually promote fake competitions with the promise of a grand prize for the winner. They often require the contestant to pay a small fee to join the contest. However, the second you do, fraudsters will disappear with your money.

Online Shopping Scams

Fake online shops are a common tool for con artists. Key pointers include websites or social media accounts selling items at outrageous discounts and dictating that delivery can only be made after full payment for the product. Teenagers are often naïve, short of cash, and easy to sell on the things they love. For this reason, they easily fall victim to online shopping scams. To avoid falling for this old trick, teenagers should consult an adult before making any payments online.

Body Image Scams

Eating disorders are a big deal for teenagers looking for the ‘ideal body’ they see on social media. Many social media influencers, especially celebrities, use editing and face tune to refine their real photos before posting them on the internet. 

As with any naïve user, teenagers get an illusion of perfection and go to the wildest extremes trying to replicate these looks. Parents and guardians should monitor their teenagers’ social media use to detect any negative influences early.


Catfishing refers to online scammers hiding behind a fake identity with the aim of stealing money from other users. This is especially common on dating platforms where users upload fake images and personal details. They will contact you often, build rapport, and ensure they win your trust before actualizing their goal. 

Catfishing can be dangerous if the scammer aims to kidnap or cause someone physical harm in real life. It is unwise for teenagers to meet up with strangers without advising adults first.

Software Freebies

Online scammers are notorious for enticing teenagers with free applications, trials, or subscription packages to get them hooked on overpriced premium services. This is also a tactic that online hackers use to gain access to your phone or financial details. With this access, they can easily get your confidential information or clean out your bank account. Teenagers should be trained on how online deals work to avoid falling victim.

School Tuition Scholarship Scams

Any student would be glad to have a scholarship cater for their college tuition as it is quite expensive. Scholarship scams usually follow a common script: the student is asked to pay a certain amount for the application, and the second they do, they don’t hear from the sponsor again. 

They also offer a student loan at an unreasonably low-interest rate and use the lie of qualifying for a scholarship but require you to pay before they can disburse the funds. It is, therefore, necessary to enquire more about the validity of a scholarship before taking action.


Online dating is more prevalent today than ever. Teenagers are, therefore, more likely to seek a relationship on online dating platforms, especially if they feel restricted at home. Scammers take advantage of such vulnerability to entice teenagers into sending erotic photos or taking part in obscene video chats. Scammers then use this content for malicious intent. Leaked nudes can affect a teenager’s self-worth or cause mental health issues. Teenagers should be extremely cautious when interacting with strangers on the internet and not yield to the pressure of sharing intimate content.

Online Auction Scams

Teenagers usually don’t have much money and often seek additional sources of income to supplement their allowance. One way to make money is by selling off what you don’t need anymore on the internet. Alternatively, they may seek to buy second-hand items at auction to take advantage of fair pricing. 

Auction fraud happens when the scammer misrepresents what they are selling or fails to deliver it to the buyer despite a payment being made. Scammers could also convince you to send the auctioned item with the promise of making payment after it is delivered but fail to honor the agreement.

Gaming Scams

Gaming is a common hobby and pass-time activity for most teenagers. Gaming scams can take many forms, including fake online platforms that bait players with free games and phishing. The fraudsters could also offer fake in-game incentives in exchange for money or sensitive personal information. Training teenagers to flag offers that are too good to be true and report gaming bullies can help curb gaming fraud.


It is almost impossible to keep a teenager away from their favorite gadgets for long. However, the risk of falling victim to various online scams, including spoofing, fake contests, software freebies, and catfishing, is high. Hence, besides following all the advice in this blog post, teenagers should use their devices responsibly. Adults and guardians tasked with the responsibility of caring for the young ones should oversee their online activity.

Lori Pace
Lori Pace

Lori Pace is a single mother of three daughters ages 7 and under. As a working mom from home, she balances kids, work and two crazy dogs with humor and love. Follow Lori as she honestly gives tips and advice based on her own experiences as a single mom!