Crooks use Instagram to recruit for old-timey bank fraud

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Claudia Cruz/CNET

It might be new technology, but social networks are being used to abet some of the oldest crimes going.

Three men have been arrested in a sting operation for committing bank fraud using Instagram, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced Tuesday.

Shakour S. Smith, 26, Ikeem M. Starks, 25, and Quadir J. Burley, 18, all from Philadelphia, allegedly created Instagram accounts with bank logos and asked people to contact them. They then convinced the respondents to participate in a scheme to steal more than $50,000 from various banks and credit unions.

Investigators became aware of their activities in February and sent undercover officers to contact them. During the meetings, they explained their scheme, asked the officers to participate and later on were caught making fraudulent withdrawals from a bank account created by the investigators.

“These thieves used modern-day social media tools to lure people to help them commit old-fashioned crimes — depositing fraudulent checks into bank accounts and withdrawing money that didn’t belong to them,” Shapiro said. 

All three are charged with a long list of crimes, including conspiracy to commit theft by deception. Their court date has not been set.

Instagram did not participate in the scam, Shapiro pointed out. The social network, which is owned by Facebook, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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