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Security

Trio allegedly used Instagram in old-timey bank fraud

Three Philadelphia men have been charged after using the social media site to allegedly find accomplices and defraud banks to the tune of $50,000.

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Instagram serves multiple purposes.

Claudia Cruz/CNET

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

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

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

Investigators became aware of the activities in February and used undercover officers to contact them. During the meetings, the men allegedly explained their scheme, asked the officers to participate and later 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 several crimes (PDF), including conspiracy to commit theft by deception. Their court date hasn't been set.

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