Data Spotlight Blog Posts https://www.ftc.gov/ en Romance scams rank number one on total reported losses https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/data-visualizations/data-spotlight/2019/02/romance-scams-rank-number-one-total-reported-losses <span property="schema:name">Romance scams rank number one on total reported losses </span> <span rel="schema:author"><span lang="" about="/user/147" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">rgiura</span></span> <span property="schema:dateCreated" content="2019-02-12T14:23:22+00:00">February 12, 2019 | 9:23AM</span> <h3 class="node-title"><a href="/news-events/data-visualizations/data-spotlight/2019/02/romance-scams-rank-number-one-total-reported-losses" hreflang="en">Romance scams rank number one on total reported losses </a></h3> <div class="field field--name-field-author field--type-string field--label-inline"> <div class="field__label">By</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item">Emma Fletcher</div> </div> </div> <div property="schema:text" class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden"> <div class="field__items"> <div property="schema:text" class="field__item"><p>People looking for romance are hoping to be swept off their feet, not caught up in a scam. But tens of thousands of reports in Consumer Sentinel show that a scam is what many people find. In 2018, Sentinel had more than 21,000 reports about romance scams, and people reported losing a total of $143 million – that’s more than any other consumer fraud type identified in Sentinel.<sup><a href="#end1">1</a></sup> These reports are rising steadily. In 2015, by comparison, people filed 8,500 Sentinel reports with dollar losses of $33 million.</p> <p><img alt="The median reported loss to romance scams is $2,600, which is seven times higher than for other types of fraud reported in 2018" src="/sites/default/files/u46943/data-spotlight-scam-feb2019.png" style="border-style:solid; border-width:0px; float:right; height:150px; margin:5px; width:350px" /></p> <p>Romance scammers lure people with phony online profiles, often lifting photos from the web to create attractive and convincing personas. They might make up names or assume the identities of real people. Reports indicate the scammers are active on dating apps, but also on social media sites that aren’t generally used for dating. For example, many people say the scam started with a Facebook message. </p> <p>Once these fraudsters have people by the heartstrings, they say they need money, often for a medical emergency or some other misfortune. They often claim to be in the military and stationed abroad, which explains why they can’t meet in person. Pretending to need help with travel costs for a long-awaited visit is another common ruse.</p> <p>Scammers can reap large rewards for time spent courting their targets. The median individual loss to a romance scam reported in 2018 was $2,600, about seven times higher than the median loss across all other fraud types.<sup><a href="#end2">2</a></sup> People often reported sending money repeatedly for one supposed crisis after another.</p> <p><img alt="Reports more than doubled and reported losses increased more than for times from 2015 to 2018." src="/sites/default/files/u46943/data-spotlight-romance.png" style="border-style:solid; border-width:0px; height:369px; margin:5px; width:700px" /></p> <p>People who said they were ages 40 to 69 reported losing money to romance scams at the highest rates – more than twice the rate of people in their 20s.<sup><a href="#end3">3</a></sup> At the same time, people 70 and over reported the highest individual median losses at $10,000.<sup><a href="#end4">4</a></sup></p> <p>Among people who told us how they paid the scammer, the majority said they wired money. The next largest group said they sent money using gift and reload cards (like Moneypak), and reports of this type of payment increased in 2018. People said they mailed the cards or gave the PIN number on the back to the scammer. Con artists favor these payment methods because they can get quick cash, the transaction is largely irreversible, and they can remain anonymous.</p> <p>So what can singles do to play it safe while dating online? Here are some tips to help spot bogus suitors:</p> <ul><li>Never send money or gifts to a sweetheart you haven’t met in person.</li> <li>Talk to someone you trust about this new love interest. In the excitement about what feels like a new relationship, we can be blinded to things that don’t add up. Pay attention if your friends or family are concerned. </li> <li>Take it slowly. Ask questions and look for inconsistent answers. Try a reverse-image search of the profile pictures. If they’re associated with another name or with details that don’t match up, it’s a scam.</li> <li>Learn more at <a href="http://www.ftc.gov/imposters">ftc.gov/imposters</a>.</li> </ul><p>Help stop these scammers by reporting suspicious profiles or messages to the dating or social media site. Then, tell the FTC at <a href="https://www.ftc.gov/complaint">FTC.gov/complaint</a>.</p> <p><a name="end1" id="end1"> </a> <sup>1</sup>Figures based on 21,368 reports submitted directly to FTC and by all Sentinel data contributors in 2018 that were classified as romance scams.</p> <p><a name="end2" id="end2"> </a> <sup>2</sup>Median loss calculations are based on reports submitted in 2018 that indicated a monetary loss of $1 to $999,999. Reports provided by MoneyGram, Western Union, and Green Dot are excluded for this calculation as these data contributors report each transaction separately, which typically affects calculation of an individual’s median loss.</p> <p><a name="end3" id="end3"> </a> <sup>3</sup>Reporting rates per million population by age calculated using population numbers obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau. <a href="https://www.census.gov/data/tables/2017/demo/popest/nation-detail.html">U.S. Census Bureau, Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Selected Age Groups by Sex for the United States, States, Counties and Puerto Rico Commonwealth and Municipios</a> (June 2018).</p> <p><a name="end4" id="end4"> </a> <sup>4</sup>Median loss calculations are based on reports submitted in 2018 that indicated a monetary loss of $1 to $999,999. Reports provided by MoneyGram, Western Union, and Green Dot are excluded as these data contributors report each transaction separately, which may affect the median loss.</p> </div> </div> </div> Tue, 12 Feb 2019 14:23:22 +0000 rgiura 54371 at https://www.ftc.gov Growing wave of Social Security imposters overtakes IRS scam https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/data-visualizations/data-spotlight/2019/04/growing-wave-social-security-imposters-overtakes-irs-scam <span property="schema:name">Growing wave of Social Security imposters overtakes IRS scam</span> <span rel="schema:author"><span lang="" about="/user/75" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">rcuster</span></span> <span property="schema:dateCreated" content="2019-04-12T10:33:02+00:00">April 12, 2019 | 6:33AM</span> <h3 class="node-title"><a href="/news-events/data-visualizations/data-spotlight/2019/04/growing-wave-social-security-imposters-overtakes-irs-scam" hreflang="en">Growing wave of Social Security imposters overtakes IRS scam</a></h3> <div class="field field--name-field-author field--type-string field--label-inline"> <div class="field__label">By</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item">Emma Fletcher</div> </div> </div> <div property="schema:text" class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden"> <div class="field__items"> <div property="schema:text" class="field__item"><p>Claiming to be a government authority is a tried and true way that scammers trick people into sending money. Among the most common government imposters have been scammers pretending to be the IRS – until now. In the past few months, the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network database has seen Social Security Administration (SSA) imposter reports skyrocket while reports of IRS imposters have declined sharply. In the shady world of government imposters, the SSA scam may be the new IRS scam.</p> <p>SSA imposters tell you your Social Security number has been suspended because of suspicious activity, or because it’s been involved in a crime. They ask you to confirm your Social Security number, or they may say you need to withdraw money from the bank and to store it on gift cards or in other unusual ways for “safekeeping.” You may be told your accounts will be seized or frozen if you don’t act quickly.</p> <p>These scammers often use robocalls to reach people, and the message can be hard to ignore. You may be told to “press 1” to speak to a government “support representative” for help reactivating your Social Security number. They also use caller ID spoofing to make it look like the Social Security Administration really is calling. With such trickery, these scammers are good at convincing people to give up their Social Security numbers and other personal information.</p> <p><a href="/sites/default/files/u46943/visual-ssa-scam-crop.png" target="_blank"><img alt="Reports of the SSA scam increased rapidly in the last year and surpassed the dollars reported lost in the peak year of the IRS Scam" src="/sites/default/files/u46943/visual-ssa-scam-click2open.png" style="border-style:solid; border-width:0px; margin-bottom:2px; margin-top:2px" /></a></p> <p>As the graphic shows, people reported the IRS scam (in blue) in huge numbers for many years, but the new SSA scam (in orange) is trending in the same direction – with a vengeance. People filed over 76,000 reports about Social Security imposters in the past 12 months, with reported losses of $19 million.<sup><a href="#end1">1</a></sup> Compare that to the $17 million in reported losses to the IRS scam in its peak year.<sup><a href="#end2">2</a></sup> About 36,000 reports and $6.7 million in reported losses are from the past two months alone.</p> <p>Just 3.4% of people who report the Social Security scam tell us they lost money.<sup><a href="#end3">3</a></sup> Most people we hear from are just worried because they believe a scammer has their Social Security number. But when people do lose money, they lose a lot: the median individual reported loss last year was $1,500, four times higher than the median individual loss for all frauds.<sup><a href="#end4">4</a></sup> All age groups are reporting this scam in high numbers, with older and younger adults filing loss reports at similar rates.<sup><a href="#end5">5</a></sup></p> <p>People report sending money in unconventional ways. Most often, people say they gave the scammer the PIN numbers on the back of gift cards. Virtual currencies like Bitcoin come in a distant second to gift cards: people say they withdrew money and fed cash into Bitcoin ATMs. With both methods, the scammer gets quick cash while staying anonymous, and the money people thought they were keeping safe is simply gone.</p> <p>Here are some tips to deal with these imposters:</p> <ul><li><strong>Do not trust caller ID.</strong> Scam calls may show up on caller ID as the Social Security Administration and look like the agency’s real number.</li> <li><strong>Don’t give the caller your Social Security number or other personal information.</strong> If you already did, visit <a href="https://www.IdentityTheft.gov/SSA">IdentityTheft.gov/SSA</a> to find out what steps you can take to protect your credit and your identity.</li> <li><strong>Check with the real Social Security Administration.</strong> The SSA will not contact you out of the blue. But you can call them directly at 1-800-772-1213 to find out if SSA is really trying to reach you and why.</li> <li><strong>Talk about it.</strong> People recognize the IRS scam, but many are getting caught off guard by these new imposters. You can help by telling people that the SSA scam is a new version of the IRS scam.</li> </ul><p>Report government imposter scams to the FTC at <a href="http://www.ftc.gov/complaint">FTC.gov/complaint</a>. To learn more, visit <a href="http://www.ftc.gov/imposters">ftc.gov/imposters</a>.</p> <hr /><p><small><a name="end1" title="" id="end1"> </a>1 FTC was unable to collect reports directly from the public during the government shutdown. Reports collected during that period were provided by Sentinel data contributors.</small></p> <p><small><a name="end2" title="" id="end2"> </a>2 From October 1, 2015 to September 30, 2016, about 140,000 reports of IRS imposter scams were filed and collectively indicated $17 million of loss.</small></p> <p><small><a name="end3" title="" id="end3"> </a>3 For comparison, 2.8% of IRS scam reports filed from January 2014 through March 2019 indicated a loss. In 2018, 25% of all fraud reports indicated a loss.</small></p> <p><small><a name="end4" title="" id="end4"> </a>4 Median loss calculations are based on reports submitted in 2018 that indicated a monetary loss ($1 - $999,999). The median reported individual loss to all frauds was $371 in 2018.</small></p> <p><small><a name="end5" title="" id="end5"> </a>5 Age comparison based on the number of Social Security imposter reports that indicated a monetary loss per million population by age. People who said they were 20 – 59 filed loss reports at a rate of 8.9 reports per million people in this age group, while people who said they were 60 and over filed 10.0 loss reports per million people in this age group. Population numbers obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau: <a href="https://www.census.gov/data/tables/time-series/demo/popest/2010s-national-detail.html">U.S. Census Bureau, Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Selected Age Groups by Sex for the United States, States, Counties and Puerto Rico Commonwealth and Municipios (June 2018)</a>. Not all reports include usable age information.</small></p> </div> </div> </div> Fri, 12 Apr 2019 10:33:02 +0000 rcuster 54478 at https://www.ftc.gov Identity theft causing outsized harm to our troops https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/data-visualizations/data-spotlight/2020/05/identity-theft-causing-outsized-harm-our-troops <span property="schema:name">Identity theft causing outsized harm to our troops</span> <span rel="schema:author"><span lang="" about="/user/75" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">rcuster</span></span> <span property="schema:dateCreated" content="2020-05-21T15:00:40+00:00">May 21, 2020 | 11:00AM</span> <h3 class="node-title"><a href="/news-events/data-visualizations/data-spotlight/2020/05/identity-theft-causing-outsized-harm-our-troops" hreflang="en">Identity theft causing outsized harm to our troops</a></h3> <div class="field field--name-field-author field--type-string field--label-inline"> <div class="field__label">By</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item">Emma Fletcher</div> </div> </div> <div property="schema:text" class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden"> <div class="field__items"> <div property="schema:text" class="field__item"><p>Our men and women in uniform take on unique hardships when they choose to serve. Identity theft shouldn’t be one of them. But the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network database shows that active duty servicemembers file reports about many forms of identity theft – and related problems with debt collection and credit reporting – at much higher rates than non-military consumers.</p> <p>Five years of identity theft data reported to the FTC on IdentityTheft.gov show that active duty servicemembers are 76% more likely than other adults to report that an identity thief misused an existing account, such as a bank account or credit card.<sup><a href="#end1">1</a></sup> Most notably, they are nearly <em>three times</em> as likely to report that someone used a debit card or some other electronic means to take money directly from their bank account.<sup><a href="#end2">2</a></sup> This finding suggests that servicemembers are experiencing highly disproportionate instances of theft from their financial accounts compared to the general population. That’s not all. They also are 22% more likely to report that their stolen information was misused to open a <em>new</em> account,<sup><a href="#end3">3</a></sup> especially new credit card accounts.</p> <p><img alt="Active duty servicemembers are nearly 3 times as likely to report that someone used a debit card or some other electronic means to take money from their bank account.Based on 2015-2019 identity theft reports to the FTC classified as 'debit cards, electronic funds transfer, or ACH.' The comparison of active duty servicemembers with other adults is normalized based on the number of reports per million population." src="/sites/default/files/u269/military_may2020.png" style="height:618px; margin:0 auto; max-width:800px; width:100%" /></p> <p>Recovering from identity theft can be a challenge in the best of circumstances, and it can take months or even years to untangle the mess when not caught quickly. But keeping a close eye on credit reports, which can help someone spot early warning signs, can be difficult for active duty troops. They report that creditors often send notices to old addresses, which may delay their ability to act on warning signs, such as bills from unknown creditors or unexpected credit card charges.<sup><a href="#end4">4</a></sup> In fact, one-fifth of active duty servicemember reports indicate that they have already experienced two or more types of identity theft.</p> <p>However, many active duty servicemembers report that they have taken protective steps. Nearly half tell us they have reviewed their credit reports and 40% say they have a fraud alert in place when they report identity theft. What the data doesn’t tell us is how many took these steps before learning of a problem.</p> <p>Securing personal information may also present special challenges for active duty troops. Nearly 14% of their reports indicate that a family member or someone they know stole their identity, compared to just 7% of other adults who report. Reports suggest that this often happens when people have access to important documents or financial records left behind during military assignments.</p> <p>When identity theft happens, credit problems and collection calls often follow. Based on data provided by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, active duty servicemembers report problems with debt collectors and credit bureaus at more than twice the rate of other adults.<sup><a href="#end5">5</a></sup> More than 40% of the debt collection reports indicate that the debt was caused by identity theft, and more than 40% of the reports about credit bureaus indicate that information on a credit report belongs to someone else.<sup><a href="#end6">6</a></sup> And many say they worry that these problems could put their security clearances and their military careers at risk.</p> <p>Frequent moves and overseas service are also associated with other kinds of credit reporting complaints. Military personnel have protections that can allow them to cancel housing contracts, vehicle leases, and some other accounts before they ship out, but reports show this doesn’t always go smoothly. Often, people learn of a problem only when they spot a ding (or worse) on their credit reports.</p> <p><a href="https://www.militaryconsumer.gov/">MilitaryConsumer.gov</a> is a resource for servicemembers, veterans, and their families to avoid scams and manage money. Here are a few things you can do now to protect yourself:</p> <ul><li>Check your bank account regularly. Report a lost or stolen debit card or unauthorized transactions immediately. Your bank may have a service to alert you to every transaction or transactions over a certain amount.</li> <li>To prevent someone from misusing your debit or credit cards, many banks will let you temporarily lock or freeze your card online or through their mobile app. You can quickly and easily unlock the card at any time the same way.</li> <li>Don’t give out authentication information – including PIN numbers or verification codes – to anyone who calls, emails, or texts you. If you didn’t initiate the contact, you can bet it’s a scam.</li> <li>Sign up for <a href="https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2019/10/free-electronic-credit-monitoring-coming-soon-military">free credit monitoring</a>, available to active duty servicemembers, to get notifications of activity on your credit reports.</li> <li>Put an <a href="https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0273-active-duty-alerts">active duty alert</a> on your credit reports if you’re deploying. Alerts last a year (you can renew) and require creditors to take steps to verify your identity before granting credit in your name.</li> <li>Even if you’re not deploying, consider placing a fraud alert if you suspect identity theft. Consider a credit freeze if you want a bit more protection and if it fits your situation.</li> <li>Know your rights under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. Talk with a <a href="https://www.militaryconsumer.gov/spend/getting-started/personal-financial-managers-pfms-other-financial-counselors-and-legal-help">Personal Financial Manager or your military legal assistance office</a> to learn more.</li> </ul><p>Go to <a href="https://www.identitytheft.gov/">IdentityTheft.gov</a> to report and get a plan to recover from identity theft.</p> <hr /><p><small><a name="end1" title="" id="end1"> </a>1 This and other identity theft figures are based on 2015-2019 identity theft reports to the FTC classified as the following theft subtypes: checking\savings account – existing, credit card – existing, debit cards, electronic funds transfer, or ACH, ITAC - account takeover, landline telephone – existing accounts, mobile telephone – existing accounts, utilities – existing accounts. The comparison of active duty servicemembers with other adults is normalized based on the number of reports per million population. The population figure for other adults was obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau 2018 American Community Survey 1-year demographic and housing estimates. The population figure for active duty servicemembers was obtained from the Defense Manpower Data Center December 31, 2019 file titled Number of Military and DoD Appropriated Fund (APF) Civilian Personnel Permanently Assigned. The FTC received 13,467 identity theft reports from 2015 through 2019 that indicated the consumer was an active duty servicemember.</small></p> <p><small><a name="end2" title="" id="end2"> </a>2 This figure is based on 2015-2019 identity theft reports to the FTC classified as debit cards, electronic funds transfer, or ACH. The comparison of active duty servicemembers to other adults is normalized based on the number of reports per million population as described in endnote 1.</small></p> <p><small><a name="end3" title="" id="end3"> </a>3 This figure is based on 2015-2019 identity theft reports to the FTC classified as the following theft subtypes: checking\savings account - new, credit card – new, ITAC – new account, landline telephone – new accounts, mobile telephone – new accounts, utilities – new accounts. The comparison of active duty servicemembers to other adults is normalized based on the number of reports per million population as described in endnote 1.</small></p> <p><small><a name="end4" title="" id="end4"> </a>4 About 12% of the 1,842 2018 and 2019 debt collection complaints from active duty servicemembers in Sentinel that were contributed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) cited problems receiving proper written notification of a debt, often due to relocation.</small></p> <p><small><a name="end5" title="" id="end5"> </a>5 This figure is based on 2018 and 2019 reports in Sentinel contributed by the CFPB and classified as credit bureaus, creditor debt collection, and third party debt collection. The comparison of active duty servicemembers to other adults is normalized based on the number of reports per million population as described in endnote 1.</small></p> <p><small><a name="end6" title="" id="end6"> </a>6 This figure is based on 2018 and 2019 reports in Sentinel contributed by the CFPB and classified as creditor debt collection, third party debt collection, and credit bureaus. Nearly 43% of the 1,842 reports from active duty service members about debt collection indicate the debt is the result of identity theft, and nearly 43% of the 3,301 reports about credit bureaus indicate the information belongs to someone else.</small></p> </div> </div> </div> Thu, 21 May 2020 15:00:40 +0000 rcuster 54595 at https://www.ftc.gov Scams starting on social media proliferate in early 2020 https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/data-visualizations/data-spotlight/2020/10/scams-starting-social-media-proliferate-early-2020 <span property="schema:name">Scams starting on social media proliferate in early 2020 </span> <span rel="schema:author"><span lang="" about="/user/224" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">sfelder</span></span> <span property="schema:dateCreated" content="2020-10-21T17:30:00+00:00">October 21, 2020 | 1:30PM</span> <h3 class="node-title"><a href="/news-events/data-visualizations/data-spotlight/2020/10/scams-starting-social-media-proliferate-early-2020" hreflang="en">Scams starting on social media proliferate in early 2020 </a></h3> <div class="field field--name-field-author field--type-string field--label-inline"> <div class="field__label">By</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item">Emma Fletcher</div> </div> </div> <div property="schema:text" class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden"> <div class="field__items"> <div property="schema:text" class="field__item"><p>Social media can be a great way to connect with friends while the pandemic has you keeping your distance. But reports to FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network suggest that that social media websites and apps have become popular hangouts for scammers, too. Reports that people lost money to scams that started on social media<sup><a href="#end1">1</a></sup> more than tripled in the past year, with a sharp increase in the second quarter of 2020.</p> <p>Reports about scams that started on social media have been increasing for years. In 2019, total reported losses to these frauds reached $134 million. But reported losses reached record highs, climbing to nearly $117 million in just the first six months of 2020. In that time, the reported scams that started on social media often related to online shopping, romance scams, and supposed economic relief or income opportunities.</p> <p>Reports about ecommerce sites that don’t deliver the goods top the FTC’s list.<sup><a href="#end2">2</a></sup> These reports skyrocketed with the pandemic, and nearly one in four reports to the FTC mentioned a social media hook.<sup><a href="#end3">3</a></sup> People mentioned Facebook or Instagram in 94% of reports that identified a specific platform,<sup><a href="#end4">4</a></sup> many saying they ordered after seeing an ad. These scam ads look real and can be carefully targeted to reach a particular audience. The scammers can delete comments on their ads or posts, so that negative responses don’t show up and alert people to the con.</p> <p>About half of all romance scam reports to the FTC since 2019 involve social media, usually Facebook or Instagram.<sup><a href="#end5">5</a></sup> However, since the pandemic began, more people than ever have reported losing money to romance scams. That includes the scams that start with a social media message or friend request.<sup><a href="#end6">6</a></sup></p> <p><img alt="Reports of Scams that Started on Social Media" src="/sites/default/files/u251195/social-media-scams-data-spotlight-102020.png" style="height:412px; width:670px" /></p> <p>People are increasingly reporting social media messages that offer grant money and other giveaways, supposedly to help people during the pandemic. These scams offer so-called relief to people in need of cash, but scammers are really after your money, your information, or both. These messages can even come from friends who may have been hacked, or who don’t know the offer is a scam, since scammers often tell people to send their message on to others.</p> <p>As people seek more ways to earn money, reports about multi-level marketing (MLM) companies and pyramid schemes – including blessing circles and other gifting schemes – on social media have increased. The numbers were up a staggering fivefold in the second quarter of 2020.<sup><a href="#end7">7</a></sup> Many of these recruitment offers reportedly came with extravagant claims about likely earnings, which is always a red flag. Some MLM companies are illegal pyramid schemes: they survive on recruiting new participants rather than selling products. Most people who join an MLM make little or no money with it, while people who become involved with a pyramid scheme typically lose everything they invest.</p> <p>The many scams that show up on social media may benefit from scammers’ low-cost access to entire networks of people. The scammer can hide behind a phony profile, pretend to be someone you know, or even take over a real account. By hiding who they are, they can get into a virtual community you trust, leading you to be more likely to trust them.</p> <p>Here are some tips to help you steer clear of scammers on social media:</p> <ul><li>Before you buy based on an ad or post, check out the company. Type its name in a search engine with words like or “scam” or “complaint.”</li> <li>Never send money to a love interest you have not met in person.</li> <li>If you get a message from a friend about a way to get some financial relief, call them. Did they forward it to you? If not, tell them their account may have been hacked. If so, check it out before you act.</li> <li>Before paying into an “opportunity” to earn money, check out <a href="https://ftc.gov/mlm">ftc.gov/mlm</a>.</li> <li>Don’t make it easy for scammers to target you – check your social media privacy settings to limit what you share publicly.</li> </ul><p>If you spot a scam, report it to the social media site and the FTC at <a href="http://www.ftc.gov/complaint">ftc.gov/complaint</a>.   </p> <hr /><p><small><a name="end1" id="end1"> </a>1 This analysis includes fraud reports directly to the FTC where the method of contact was specifically identified as social network, and reports where the method of contact was not specified, specified as internet, or consumer initiated contact, if the comments field also included mention of Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Reddit, Snapchat, TikTok, Tumblr, Twitter, or YouTube. The analysis excludes reports categorized as complaints about social networking services, internet information services, mobile text messages, and unsolicited email.</small></p> <p><small><a name="end2" id="end2"> </a>2 In Q1 2020 and Q2 2020, 28% of reports of frauds that started on social media were categorized as online shopping fraud where the goods were ordered but not received, followed by romance scams (13%), business imposter scams (6%), family and friend imposters (6%), and government imposter scams (4%).</small></p> <p><small><a name="end3" id="end3"> </a>3 In Q1 and Q2 2020, of the 43,391 reports directly to the FTC about undelivered online shopping orders, 9,832 (23%) indicated the problem started on social media.</small></p> <p><small><a name="end4" id="end4"> </a>4 Of the 9,832 reports (in Endnote 3) about online shopping orders that never arrived, 7,974 reports identified one or more of the social media platforms listed in Endnote 1, including 7,502 that identified Facebook or Instagram.</small></p> <p><small><a name="end5" id="end5"> </a>5 From January 2019 through June 2020, 10,491 (48%) of the 21,941 romance scam reports directly to the FTC were scams that started on social media. Of these, 5,845 identified one or more of the social media platforms listed in Endnote 1, including 5,147 that identified Facebook or Instagram.</small></p> <p><small><a name="end6" id="end6"> </a>6 In Q2 2020, 2,621 people reported a monetary loss on a romance scam directly to the FTC, a 19% increase over the previous quarterly high of 2,208 in Q1 of 2020.</small></p> <p><small><a name="end7" id="end7"> </a>7 These figures are based on reports directly to the FTC categorized as multi-level marketing\pyramids\chain letters. In 2020, reports in this category increased from 387 total reports in the first quarter to 824 total reports in the second quarter. Of those that started on social media, the increase was 94 in Q1, compared to 491 in Q2.</small></p> </div> </div> </div> Wed, 21 Oct 2020 17:30:00 +0000 sfelder 54671 at https://www.ftc.gov Romance scams take record dollars in 2020 https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/data-visualizations/data-spotlight/2021/02/romance-scams-take-record-dollars-2020 <span property="schema:name">Romance scams take record dollars in 2020 </span> <span rel="schema:author"><span lang="" about="/user/156" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">bcooper1</span></span> <span property="schema:dateCreated" content="2021-02-10T13:47:24+00:00">February 10, 2021 | 8:47AM</span> <h3 class="node-title"><a href="/news-events/data-visualizations/data-spotlight/2021/02/romance-scams-take-record-dollars-2020" hreflang="en">Romance scams take record dollars in 2020 </a></h3> <div class="field field--name-field-author field--type-string field--label-inline"> <div class="field__label">By</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item">Emma Fletcher</div> </div> </div> <div property="schema:text" class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden"> <div class="field__items"> <div property="schema:text" class="field__item"><p>They say love hurts. With romance scams that’s doubly true – hearts are broken and wallets are emptied. For three years running, people have reported losing more money on romance scams than on any other fraud type identified in Sentinel.<sup><a href="#end1">1</a></sup> In 2020, reported losses to romance scams reached a record $304 million, up about 50% from 2019. For an individual, that meant a median dollar loss of $2,500. From 2016 to 2020, reported total dollar losses increased more than fourfold, and the number of reports nearly tripled.<sup><a href="#end2">2</a></sup></p> <p>It is reasonable to wonder: what happened in 2020 to make these dollars losses continue to spike? An obvious reason may be the pandemic limiting our ability to meet in person. But outside the pandemic, the share of people who have ever used an online dating site or app has also been rising.<sup><a href="#end3">3</a></sup> And romance scammers are primed to take advantage. Scammers fabricate attractive online profiles to draw people in, often lifting pictures from the web and using made up names. Some go a step further and assume the identities of real people. Once they make online contact, they make up reasons not to meet in person. The pandemic has both made that easier and inspired new twists to their stories, with many people reporting that their so-called suitor claimed to be unable to travel because of the pandemic. Some scammers have reportedly even canceled first date plans due to a supposed positive COVID-19 test.</p> <p><img alt="Romance Scam Reports Over Time" src="/sites/default/files/u50873/romance_scam_2020.png" style="height:400px; width:600px" /></p> <p>While many people report losing money on romance scams that start on dating apps, even more say they were targeted on social media.<sup><a href="#end4">4</a></sup> These social media users aren’t always looking for love, and report that the scam often starts with an unexpected friend request or message.</p> <p>Sooner or later, these scammers always ask for money. They might say it’s for a phone card to keep chatting. Or they might claim it’s for a medical emergency, with COVID-19 often sprinkled into their tales of woe. The stories are endless, and can create a sense of urgency that pushes people to send money over and over again.</p> <p>What many of the largest reported dollar losses have in common is that people believe their new partner has actually sent <em>them</em> a large sum of money. Scammers claim to have sent money for a cooked-up reason, and then have a detailed story about why the money needs to be sent back to them or on to someone else. People think they’re helping someone they care about, but they may actually be laundering stolen funds. In fact, many reported that the money they received and forwarded on turned out to be stolen unemployment benefits.</p> <p>In 2020, reports of gift cards being used to send money to romance scammers increased by nearly 70%. Gift cards, along with wire transfers, are the most frequently reported payment methods for romance scams.<sup><a href="#end5">5</a></sup> People said they mailed the gift cards or gave the card’s PIN number to the scammer. The median amount people sent romance scammers in 2020 using any method of payment was $2,500, more than ten times the median loss across all other fraud types.<sup><a href="#end6">6</a></sup></p> <p>Reports of money lost on romance scams increased for every age group in 2020. People ages 20 to 29 saw the most striking increase, with the number of reports more than doubling since 2019. People ages 40 to 69 were once again the most likely to report losing money to romance scams.<sup><a href="#end7">7</a></sup> And people 70 and older reported the highest individual median losses at $9,475.<sup><a href="#end8">8</a></sup></p> <p>So how can you play it safe while looking for love online? Here are some tips to help you steer clear of scammers:</p> <ul><li> Never send money or gifts to someone you haven’t met in person – even if they send you money first.</li> <li>Talk to someone you trust about this new love interest. It can be easy to miss things that don’t add up. So pay attention if your friends or family are concerned.</li> <li>Take it slowly. Ask questions and look for inconsistent answers.</li> <li>Try a reverse-image search of the profile pictures. If they’re associated with another name or with details that don’t match up, it’s a scam.</li> <li>Learn more at <a href="http://www.ftc.gov/romancescams">ftc.gov/romancescams</a>.</li> </ul><p>Help stop scammers by reporting suspicious profiles or messages to the dating app or social media platform. Then, tell the FTC at <a href="http://www.reportfraud.ftc.gov/">ReportFraud.ftc.gov</a>.</p> <div class="WordSection1"> <p> </p> <div>  <hr /><p><small><a name="end1" id="end1"> </a>1 The analysis is based on self-reported data from consumers that is stored in the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Database. It is not a survey that measures prevalence of this particular scam. This analysis excludes fraud reports classified as “Other misc.”</small></p> <p><small><a name="end2" id="end2"> </a>2 Losses sustained in these scams are reported by consumers but not independently verified. These figures and figures throughout this Spotlight are based on reports to the FTC's Consumer Sentinel Network that were classified as romance scams, excluding reports provided by the Internet Crimes Complaint Center (IC3). IC3 reports submitted prior to 2020 were unavailable at the time of publication, so these reports were excluded to ensure greater consistency in reporting trends over time. .</small></p> <p><small><a name="end3" id="end3"> </a>3 According to the Pew Research Center, the “share of Americans who have used these platforms – as well as the share who have found a spouse or partner through them – has risen over time.” See Monica Anderson, Emily A. Vogels, and Erica Turner, Pew Research Center, The Virtues and Downsides of Online Dating (Feb. 2020, Rev. Jan. 2021), at 3, available at https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2020/02/06/the-virtues-and-downsides-of-online-dating/. </small></p> <p><small><a name="end4" id="end4"> </a>4 This finding is based on keyword analysis of 2020 Consumer Sentinel Reports classified as a romance scams and indicating a dollar loss. Of these, 2,276 reports mentioned the dating apps Ashley Madison, BLK, Bumble, Chispa, Coffee Meets Bagel, eharmony, EliteSingles, FriendFinder, Grindr, Hinge, Match, OkCupid, OurTime, Plenty of Fish, Seeking Arrangement, SilverSingles, Tinder, WooPlus, or Zoosk. Another 5,924 mentioned Facebook or Instagram. Reports that mentioned one of the specified dating apps and also Facebook or Instagram were excluded from the Facebook or Instagram figure. Because these numbers have not been normalized based on the number of users, they should not be understood as an indication that an individual user of Facebook or Instagram is more likely to encounter a romance scam as compared to users of these dating apps.</small></p> <p><small><a name="end5" id="end5"> </a>5 Wire transfer refers to payments made by wire transfer services such as MoneyGram and Western Union. Gift cards include reload cards (e.g., MoneyPak)..</small></p> <p><small><a name="end6" id="end6"> </a>6 Median loss calculations are based on reports indicating a monetary loss of $1 to $999,999. Reports provided by MoneyGram, Western Union, and Green Dot are excluded for this calculation as these data contributors report each transaction separately, which typically affects calculation of an individual’s median loss. The median individual reported loss for all frauds in 2020, excluding romance scams, was $240.</small></p> <p><small><a name="end7" id="end7"> </a>7 In 2020, 62% of romance scam reports included in this Spotlight included age information. This age comparison is normalized based on the number of loss reports per million population by age during this period. Population numbers were obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Selected Age Groups by Sex for the United States (June 2020).</small></p> <p><small><a name="end8" id="end8"> </a>8 See endnote 6.</small></p> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> Wed, 10 Feb 2021 13:47:24 +0000 bcooper1 54714 at https://www.ftc.gov Scammers prefer gift cards, but not just any card will do https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/data-visualizations/data-spotlight/2021/12/scammers-prefer-gift-cards-not-just-any-card-will-do <span property="schema:name">Scammers prefer gift cards, but not just any card will do</span> <span rel="schema:author"><span lang="" about="/user/224" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">sfelder</span></span> <span property="schema:dateCreated" content="2021-12-08T14:30:03+00:00">December 8, 2021 | 9:30AM</span> <h3 class="node-title"><a href="/news-events/data-visualizations/data-spotlight/2021/12/scammers-prefer-gift-cards-not-just-any-card-will-do" hreflang="en">Scammers prefer gift cards, but not just any card will do</a></h3> <div class="field field--name-field-author field--type-string field--label-inline"> <div class="field__label">By</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item">Emma Fletcher</div> </div> </div> <div property="schema:text" class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden"> <div class="field__items"> <div property="schema:text" class="field__item"><p>Gift cards are an easy way to give. Reports to the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel show they’re also an easy way to take. About one in four people who report losing money to fraud say it happened when a scammer tricked them into giving the numbers on the back of a gift card.<sup><a href="#end1">1</a></sup> Gift cards are far more frequently reported than any other payment method for fraud,<sup><a href="#end2">2</a></sup> and the numbers have reached staggering new highs compared to past years.<sup><a href="#end3">3</a></sup> In the first nine months of 2021 alone, nearly 40,000 people reported $148 million stolen using gift cards. And because the vast majority of frauds are not reported to the government, this reflects only a fraction of the harm these scams cause.<sup><a href="#end4">4</a></sup></p> <p><img alt="Scammers tell people to go to a specific store and buy a specific gift card." src="/sites/default/files/u251195/gc_spotlight_scammer_process_300.jpg" style="float:right; height:155px; margin-left:10px; width:300px" />Scammers favor gift cards because they are easy for people to find and buy, and they have fewer protections for buyers compared to some other payment options. Scammers can get quick cash, the transaction is largely irreversible, and they can remain anonymous.</p> <p>According to reports received by the FTC, scams demanding gift cards most often start with a phone call from someone impersonating a well-known business or government authority.<sup><a href="#end5">5</a></sup> Many people report that a scammer posing as Amazon or Apple told them to send pictures of the numbers on gift cards to fix a supposed security problem with their account. Sometimes they call those numbers “security codes.” But the only thing the numbers are good for is taking the money on the card. Other people report that a scammer claiming to be the Social Security Administration said their bank accounts would be frozen as part of an investigation. They’re told to buy gift cards to avoid arrest or to secure access to their money. Reports also show that scammers asking for gift cards pretend to be a love interest, employer, sweepstakes or lottery company, or family member in trouble.</p> <p><img alt="Top Gift Card Brands" src="/sites/default/files/u251195/gc_spotlight_brand_losses_300.jpg" style="float:left; height:400px; margin-right:10px; width:300px" />Whatever the story, reports show that scammers don’t settle for just any card – they tell people the specific gift card brands to buy. In the first nine months of 2021, over twice as much money was reported lost on Target gift cards than any other brand. Google Play gift cards were next, followed by Apple, eBay, and Walmart cards.</p> <p>Scammers also tell people where to buy the gift cards. In the first nine months of 2021, people who reported losing money buying gift cards mentioned Target stores more than other retailers. Reports suggest that Walmart, Best Buy, CVS, and Walgreens stores are also popular with scammers.</p> <p>Scammers use lots of tricks to avoid detection. People often say the scammer sent them to several store locations to make multiple purchases. Scammers tell people to stay on the phone with the scammer the entire time – a trick to make sure they don’t call anyone who might help. Scammers even coach people on what to say if a cashier asks questions; they don’t want anyone to stop the scam, and they know store employees are often the only people who can help.</p> <p>Both the number of reported gift card scams and total losses have increased every year since 2018.<sup><a href="#end6">6</a></sup> Losses are certainly up due to the higher number of reports, but individuals also report that they’re losing a lot more money. In fact, losses of $5,000 or more have increased from about 8% of reports in 2018 to about 14% in the first nine months of 2021. Over the same period, median reported losses increased from $700 to $1,000.</p> <p align="center"><img alt="Reports of Gift Card Scams" src="/sites/default/files/u251195/gc_spotlight_reports_600.jpg" style="height:540px; margin-bottom:10px; margin-top:10px; width:600px" /></p> <p>Losses also vary by card brand. Target cards, for example, saw a median reported loss of $2,500 in the first nine months of the year, far higher than other frequently reported cards.<sup><a href="#end7">7</a></sup> In addition, 30% of people who paid with a Target card said they lost $5,000 or more.<sup><a href="#end8">8</a></sup></p> <p>Whenever someone demands to be paid with a gift card, that’s a scam. It’s just that simple. Gift cards are for gifts, not for payments. If someone convinced you to give them the numbers on a gift card or send them a photo, hang onto the card and your receipt, and report it to the card issuer <strong>right away</strong>. You’ll find contact information for some major gift cards at <a href="/giftcards">ftc.gov/giftcards</a>. Then report your experience to the FTC at <a href="http://ReportFraud.ftc.gov">ReportFraud.ftc.gov</a>.</p> <p>If you’re a retailer, or state or local law enforcement, and you’re interested in helping your customers and neighbors avoid gift card scams, visit <a href="/StopGiftCardScams">ftc.gov/StopGiftCardScams</a> to download, print, and share materials in your store and community.</p> <div class="WordSection1"> <div><br clear="all" /><hr /><p><small><a name="end1" id="end1"> </a>1 From January 2018 through September 2021, 26.6% of consumers who reported losing money to fraud indicated the money was taken using gift cards or reload cards. From January 2021 through September 2021, this figure was 26.1%. Reports that do not indicate a method of payment are excluded. These figures and figures throughout this Spotlight are based on fraud reports directly to the FTC indicating gift card or reload card as the method of payment. Fraud reports classified as “online shopping” are excluded here and throughout this Spotlight because of the legitimate use of gift cards among large retailers.</small></p> <p><small><a name="end2" id="end2"> </a>2 Gift cards were the most frequently reported payment method for fraud in 2018, 2019, 2020, and in the first nine months of 2021. From January 2018 through September 2021, the second most frequently reported payment method was credit cards. From January 2021 through September 2021, the second most frequently reported payment method was cryptocurrency. </small></p> <p><small><a name="end3" id="end3"> </a>3 From January 2021 through September 2021, 39,263 reports indicating $147.8 million in gift card and reload card payments were submitted, compared to 36,682 reports indicating $115.1 million in reported gift card payments in all of 2020. Earlier year figures for comparison purposes are as follows: 35,323 reports with $100 million reported lost (2019), 32,084 reports with $70.6 million reported lost (2018). </small></p> <p><small><a name="end4" id="end4"> </a>4 <em>See </em>Anderson, K. B., <em>To Whom Do Victims of Mass-Market Consumer Fraud Complain?</em> at 1 (May 2021),<em> available at</em> <a href="https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3852323">https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3852323</a> (study showed only 4.8% of people who experienced mass-market consumer fraud complained to a Better Business Bureau (“BBB”) or a government entity). </small></p> <p><small><a name="end5" id="end5"> </a>5 From January 2021 through September 2021, 12,239 people reported losing $35.5 million to business impersonators using gift cards, and 7,844 people reported losing $39.6 million to government impersonators using gift cards. Excluding reports that did not indicate a contact method, a phone call was the method of contact in 37% of reports indicating gift cards as the method of payment, followed by email (18%) and social media (16%).</small></p> <p><small><a name="end6" id="end6"> </a>6 See footnote 3.</small></p> <p><small><a name="end7" id="end7"> </a>7 The median individual reported losses from January 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021 by gift card brand are as follows: Target ($2,500), Walmart ($1,380), Apple ($800), eBay ($600), and Google Play ($500). Median individual losses are based on the total loss reported by the consumer, which often includes more than one gift card purchase. </small></p> <p><small><a name="end8" id="end8"> </a>8 The percentage of reports from January 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021 indicating a loss of $5,000 or more by gift card brand are as follows: Target (30%), Apple (13%), Walmart (12%), Google Play (6%), and eBay (3%). Of the $148 million reported lost to gift card scams during this period, $111 million were losses reported by people who reported a loss of $5,000 or more.</small></p> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> Wed, 08 Dec 2021 14:30:03 +0000 sfelder 78008 at https://www.ftc.gov Reports show scammers cashing in on crypto craze https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/data-visualizations/data-spotlight/2022/06/reports-show-scammers-cashing-crypto-craze <span property="schema:name">Reports show scammers cashing in on crypto craze </span> <span rel="schema:author"><span lang="" about="/user/244" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">bacree</span></span> <span property="schema:dateCreated" content="2022-06-03T20:53:46+00:00">June 3, 2022 | 4:53PM</span> <h3 class="node-title"><a href="/news-events/data-visualizations/data-spotlight/2022/06/reports-show-scammers-cashing-crypto-craze" hreflang="en">Reports show scammers cashing in on crypto craze </a></h3> <div class="field field--name-field-author field--type-string field--label-inline"> <div class="field__label">By</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item">Emma Fletcher</div> </div> </div> <div property="schema:text" class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden"> <div class="field__items"> <div property="schema:text" class="field__item"><p>From Super Bowl ads to Bitcoin ATMs, cryptocurrency seems to be everywhere lately. Although it’s yet to become a mainstream payment method, reports to the FTC show it’s an alarmingly common method for scammers to get peoples’ money. Since the start of 2021, more than 46,000 people have reported losing over $1 billion in crypto to scams<sup><a href="#crypto1">[1]</a></sup> – that’s about one out of every four dollars reported lost,<sup><a href="#crypto2">[2]</a></sup> more than <i>any </i>other payment method. The median individual reported loss? A whopping $2,600. The top cryptocurrencies people said they used to pay scammers were Bitcoin (70%), Tether (10%), and Ether (9%).<sup><a href="#crypto3">[3]</a></sup>  </p> <p>Crypto has several features that are attractive to scammers, which may help to explain why the reported losses in 2021 were nearly <i>sixty times </i>what they were in 2018. There’s no bank or other centralized authority to flag suspicious transactions and attempt to stop fraud before it happens. Crypto transfers can’t be reversed – once the money’s gone, there’s no getting it back. And most people are still unfamiliar with how crypto works. These considerations are not unique to crypto transactions, but they all play into the hands of scammers.</p> <p>Reports point to social media and crypto as a combustible combination for fraud. Nearly half the people who reported losing crypto to a scam since 2021 said it started with an ad, post, or message on a social media platform.<sup><a href="#crypto4">[4]</a></sup></p> <article class="align-right media media--type-image media--view-mode-sm"><div class="media__content"> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-visually_hidden"> <div class="field__label usa-sr-only">Image</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/scaled_sm/public/ftc_gov/images/trend-viz.png?itok=IaZSNuP2" width="500" height="900" alt="Reported Cryptocurrency Fraud Loss by year" loading="lazy" typeof="foaf:Image" style="aspect-ratio: 500/900" /></div> </div> </div> </div> </article><p>During this period, nearly four out of every ten dollars reported lost to a fraud originating on social media was lost in crypto, far more than any other payment method.<sup><a href="#crypto5">[5]</a></sup> The top platforms identified in these reports were Instagram (32%), Facebook (26%), WhatsApp (9%), and Telegram (7%).<sup><a href="#crypto6">[6]</a></sup></p> <p>Of the reported crypto fraud losses that began on social media, most are <a href="https://consumer.ftc.gov/jobs-and-making-money/money-making-opportunities-and-investments">investment scams</a>.<sup><a href="#crypto7">[7]</a></sup> Indeed, since 2021, $575 million of all crypto fraud losses reported to the FTC were about bogus investment opportunities, far more than any other fraud type. The stories people share about these scams describe a perfect storm: false promises of easy money paired with people’s limited crypto understanding and experience. Investment scammers claim they can quickly and easily get huge returns for investors. But those crypto “investments” go straight to a scammer’s wallet. People report that investment websites and apps let them track the growth of their crypto, but it’s all fake. Some people report making a small “test” withdrawal – just enough to convince them it’s safe to go all in. When they really try to cash out, they’re told to send <i>more </i>crypto for (fake) fees, and they don’t get any of their money back.</p> <p><a href="https://consumer.ftc.gov/articles/what-you-need-know-about-romance-scams">Romance scams</a> are a distant second to investment scams, with $185 million in reported cryptocurrency losses since 2021 – that’s nearly one in every three dollars reported lost to a romance scam during this period.<sup><a href="#crypto8">[8]</a></sup> And many have an investment twist too. These keyboard Casanovas reportedly dazzle people with their supposed wealth and sophistication. Before long, they casually offer tips on getting started with crypto investing and help with making investments. People who take them up on the offer report that what they really got was a tutorial on sending crypto to a scammer. The median individual reported crypto loss to romance scammers is an astounding $10,000.</p> <p><img align="left" alt="" cellpadding="5" cellspacing="5" src="/sites/default/files/ftc_gov/images/PSC-viz-crypto.png" /></p> <p> </p> <p><a href="https://consumer.ftc.gov/features/imposter-scams">Business and government impersonation scams</a> are next with $133 million in reported crypto losses since 2021. These scams can start with a text about a supposedly unauthorized Amazon purchase, or an alarming online pop-up made to look like a security alert from Microsoft. From there, people are reportedly told the fraud is extensive and their money is at risk. The scammers may even get the “bank” on the line to back up the story. (Pro tip: it’s not the bank.) In another twist, scammers impersonating border patrol agents have reportedly told people their accounts will be frozen as part of a drug trafficking investigation. These scammers tell people the only way to protect their money is to put it in crypto: people report that these “agents” direct them to take out cash and feed it into a crypto ATM. The “agent” then sends a QR code and says to hold it up to the ATM camera. But that QR code is embedded with the scammer’s wallet address. Once the machine scans it, their cash is gone.</p> <p>People ages 20 to 49 were more than <i>three times</i> as likely as older age groups to have reported losing cryptocurrency to a scammer.<sup><a href="#crypto9">[9]</a></sup> Reports point to people in their 30s as the hardest hit – 35% of their reported fraud losses since 2021 were in cryptocurrency.<sup><a href="#crypto10">[10]</a></sup> But median individual reported losses have tended to increase with age, topping out at $11,708 for people in their 70s.<sup><a href="#crypto11">[11]</a></sup></p> <p>Here are some things to know to steer clear of a crypto con:</p> <ul><li><b>Only scammers will guarantee profits or big returns.</b> No cryptocurrency investment is ever guaranteed to make money, let alone big money.</li> </ul><ul><li><b>Nobody legit will require you to buy cryptocurrency.</b> Not to sort out a problem, not to protect your money. That’s a scam.</li> </ul><ul><li><b>Never mix online dating and investment advice</b>. If a new love interest wants to show you how to invest in crypto, or asks you to send them crypto, that’s a scam.</li> </ul><p>To learn more about cryptocurrency scams – and how to spot and avoid scams generally – visit <a href="https://consumer.ftc.gov/articles/what-know-about-cryptocurrency-scams">ftc.gov/cryptocurrency</a> and <a href="https://consumer.ftc.gov/scams">ftc.gov/scams</a>. Report scams to the FTC at <a href="http://www.reportfraud.ftc.gov/">ReportFraud.ftc.gov</a>.</p> <hr align="left" size="1" width="33%" /><p><small><a name="crypto1" id="crypto1"> </a></small></p> <p><small><a id="crypto1"></a>[1]These figures and figures throughout this Spotlight, unless otherwise noted, are based on fraud reports made directly to the FTC in the Consumer Sentinel Network database from January 1, 2021 through March 31, 2022 that indicated cryptocurrency as the payment method. Reports provided by Sentinel data contributors are excluded because of inconsistencies among contributors in capturing payment information. Because the vast majority of frauds are not reported, these figures reflect just a small fraction of the public harm. <i>See</i> Anderson, K. B., <i>To Whom Do Victims of Mass-Market Consumer Fraud Complain?</i> at 1 (May 2021), <i>available at</i> <a href="http://www.ftc.gov/now-leaving?external_url=https%3A%2F%2Fpapers.ssrn.com%2Fsol3%2Fpapers.cfm%3Fabstract_id%3D3852323&amp;back_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ftc.gov%2Fnews-events%2Fdata-visualizations%2Fdata-spotlight%2F2022%2F02%2Freports-romance-scams-hit-record-highs-2021">https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3852323</a> (study showed only 4.8% of people who experienced mass-market consumer fraud complained to a Better Business Bureau or a government entity).</small></p> <p id="crypto2"><small>[2] From January 1, 2021 through March 31, 2022, cryptocurrency was identified as the payment method for 24% of reported dollar losses in fraud reports to the FTC.</small></p> <p><small><a id="crypto3"></a>[3]These figures exclude reports that did not specify the type of cryptocurrency.</small></p> <p><small><a id="crypto4"></a>[4] From January 1, 2021 through March 31, 2022, 49% of fraud reports to the FTC indicating cryptocurrency as the payment method specified that the scam started on social media, compared to 37% in 2020, 18% in 2019, and 11% in 2018.</small></p> <p><small><a id="crypto5"></a>[5] From January 1, 2021 through March 31, 2022, $1.1 billion was reported to the FTC as lost to fraud originating on social media. Of that number, 39% was reported as paid using cryptocurrency, followed by bank transfer or payment (20%), and wire transfer (9%). 8% did not indicate a payment method.</small></p> <p><small><a id="crypto6"></a>[6] These figures exclude reports that did not specify a social media platform.</small></p> <p><small><a id="crypto7"></a>[7] From January 1, 2021 through March 31, 2022, people reported to the FTC that $417 million in cryptocurrency was lost to fraud originating on social media. $273 million of these losses were to fraud categorized as investment related, followed by romance scams ($69 million), and business imposters ($35 million).</small></p> <p><small><a id="crypto8"></a>[8] From January 1, 2021 through March 31, 2022, cryptocurrency was identified as the payment method for 29% of reported dollar losses to romance scams.</small></p> <p><small><a id="crypto9"></a>[9] From January 1, 2021 through March 31, 2022, people ages 20 to 49 submitted fraud loss reports to the FTC indicating social media as the contact method at a rate 3.4 times greater than people 50 and over. About 91% of fraud reports indicating cryptocurrency as the payment method during this period included age information. This age comparison is normalized based on the number of loss reports per million population by age during this period. Population numbers were obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Selected Age Groups by Sex for the United States (June 2020).</small></p> <p><small><a id="crypto10"></a>[10] From January 1, 2021 through March 31, 2022, the percentage of total reported fraud losses that were lost in cryptocurrency by age were as follows: 12% (18-19), 23% (20-29), 35% (30-39), 33% (40-49), 28% (50-59), 19% (60-69), 10% (70-79), and 2% (80 and over). These figures exclude reports that did not indicate age.</small></p> <p><small><a id="crypto11"></a>[11] From January 1, 2021 through March 31, 2022, the median individual reported cryptocurrency losses to fraud by age were as follows: $1,000 (18-19), $1,600 (20-29), $2,500 (30-39), $3,200 (40-49), $5,000 (50-59), $8,500 (60-69), $11,708 (70-79), and $8,100 (80 and over).</small></p> </div> </div> </div> Fri, 03 Jun 2022 20:53:46 +0000 bacree 78988 at https://www.ftc.gov New twist to grandparent scam: mail cash https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/data-visualizations/data-spotlight/2018/12/new-twist-grandparent-scam-mail-cash <span property="schema:name">New twist to grandparent scam: mail cash</span> <span rel="schema:author"><span lang="" about="/user/147" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">rgiura</span></span> <span property="schema:dateCreated" content="2018-12-03T13:20:39+00:00">December 3, 2018 | 8:20AM</span> <h3 class="node-title"><a href="/news-events/data-visualizations/data-spotlight/2018/12/new-twist-grandparent-scam-mail-cash" hreflang="en">New twist to grandparent scam: mail cash</a></h3> <div class="field field--name-field-author field--type-string field--label-inline"> <div class="field__label">By</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item">Emma Fletcher</div> </div> </div> <div property="schema:text" class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden"> <div class="field__items"> <div property="schema:text" class="field__item"><p>In 2018, the Consumer Sentinel Network has seen a striking increase in the median dollar amount that people 70 and over are saying they lost to fraud. Digging into the data, we found some common stories with an unusual twist: people 70 and older report mailing huge amounts of cash to people who pretended to be their grandchildren.</p><p><img alt="$9,000 is the median cash amount that people 70+ sent to family or friend imposters" src="/sites/default/files/u46943/graphic-nov-900.png" style="border-style:solid; border-width:0px; float:right; height:169px; margin:5px; width:350px" />People 70 and over rarely report to the FTC that they paid a scammer with cash. But for one particular type of fraud – family and friend imposters – fully 25% of people 70 and over who reported to the FTC how they paid money told us they sent cash.<sup><a href="/news-events/blogs/consumer-blog/2018/11/new-twist-grandparent-scam-mail-cash#1">1</a></sup> </p><p>We call these family and friend imposter scams, but you may know them as the “grandparent scam” and with good reason. People 70 and over report that the scammer posed as a grandchild, usually a grandson, about 70% of the time.<sup><a href="/news-events/blogs/consumer-blog/2018/11/new-twist-grandparent-scam-mail-cash#2">2</a></sup></p><p>People from all age groups reported median individual losses of about $2,000 to family and friend imposters – far higher than the median loss of $462 reported to us this year for all fraud types.<sup><a href="/news-events/blogs/consumer-blog/2018/11/new-twist-grandparent-scam-mail-cash#3">3</a></sup> But the story is much worse for people 70 and over who sent cash – they reported median individual losses of $9,000.<sup><a href="/news-events/blogs/consumer-blog/2018/11/new-twist-grandparent-scam-mail-cash#4">4</a></sup></p><p>When we looked at fraud reports from all age groups, and from all Sentinel data contributors,<sup><a href="/news-events/blogs/consumer-blog/2018/11/new-twist-grandparent-scam-mail-cash#5">5</a></sup> we found that aggregate losses to family and friend imposters have increased. Losses over the past year reached $41 million, as compared to $26 million in the previous year.<sup><a href="/news-events/blogs/consumer-blog/2018/11/new-twist-grandparent-scam-mail-cash#6">6</a></sup></p><p>Like many scams, these start with a phone call<sup><a href="/news-events/blogs/consumer-blog/2018/11/new-twist-grandparent-scam-mail-cash#7">7</a></sup> using some common ploys. In about half of the reports of cash payments, people said the caller claimed to be in jail or other legal trouble.<sup><a href="/news-events/blogs/consumer-blog/2018/11/new-twist-grandparent-scam-mail-cash#8">8</a></sup> About a third of these reports mentioned a so-called car accident (some mentioning texting or drinking while driving).<sup><a href="/news-events/blogs/consumer-blog/2018/11/new-twist-grandparent-scam-mail-cash#9">9</a></sup> In both cases, the callers play on people’s emotions and sense of loyalty: they may be told they’re the only person trusted enough to call for help, and they’re often told not to tell anyone.</p><p><img alt="2018 fraud losses paid in cash for people over 70 years old; 1 in 4 paid cash in family and friends impostor scams compared to 1 in 25 for all other fraud" src="/sites/default/files/u46943/graphic-nov-2018fraud-700.png" style="border-style:solid; border-width:0px; height:532px; margin:5px 0px; width:700px" /></p><p>These scammers are experts at impersonating people they’ve never even met. Car accident injuries, often broken noses, or uncontrolled sobbing explain away a voice that might not sound quite right. Scammers use personal details from social media sites to make their stories more believable. Or they may simply wait for their target to use a name – “Steve, is that you?” – and take the cue.</p><p>According to reports, callers often give very specific instructions about how to send cash. Many people said they were told to divide the bills into envelopes and place them between the pages of a magazine. Then, according to reports, they were told to send them using various carriers, including UPS, FedEx, and the U.S. Postal Service.</p><p>What can you do about these scams? Talk about them. Many people have gotten these calls, so help others know what to do to spot and avoid the scam:</p><ul style="list-style-type:disc" type="disc"><li>Don’t act right away, no matter how dramatic the story is.</li><li>Call that family member or friend, and make sure you use a phone number that you know is right. Or check it out with someone else in your circle, even if the caller told you to keep it a secret.</li><li>Be careful about what you post on social media. If your personal details are public, someone can use them to defraud you <em>and</em> people who care about you.</li></ul><p>If you’ve mailed cash, report it right away to the Postal Service or whichever shipping company you used. Some people have been able to stop delivery by acting quickly and giving a tracking number. Also tell the FTC at <a href="https://www.ftc.gov/complaint">FTC.gov/complaint</a>. Learn more about this and other imposter scams at <a href="http://www.FTC.gov/imposters">FTC.gov/imposters</a>. </p><p>To explore Sentinel data, visit <a href="http://www.ftc.gov/data">FTC.gov/data</a>.</p><p><img alt="application/pdf icon" src="https://www.ftc.gov/sites/all/themes/ftc/images/icons/application-pdf.png" title="application/pdf" /> <a href="/system/files/attachments/blog_posts/New%20twist%20to%20grandparent%20scam%3A%20mail%20cash/consumer_protection_data_spotlight_12_3_18.pdf">Download in PDF format</a> (460.43 KB)</p><hr /><p><small><a name="1" id="1"></a>1 This figure is based on 2018 fraud reports submitted directly to the FTC that indicated a monetary loss and excludes reports that do not indicate a payment method. For comparison, in 2017 one in fourteen people 70 and over who reported to the FTC how they paid money told us they sent cash.</small><small><br /><a name="2" id="2"></a> 2 This figure was determined through keyword analysis of the narratives provided in the specified subset of reports.<br /><a name="3" id="3"></a>3 This figure is based on reports submitted directly to the FTC in 2018 that indicated a monetary loss of $1 to $999,999.<br /><a name="4" id="4"></a>4 This figure is based on reports submitted directly to the FTC in 2018 that indicated a monetary loss of $1 to $999,999 and excludes reports that do not indicate age.<br /><a name="5" id="5"></a>5 The Consumer Sentinel Network includes reports filed directly with the FTC and with 42 Sentinel data contributors, including other government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and companies.<br /><a name="6" id="6"></a>6 These figures are based on the 12-month periods ending October 31, 2018 and October 31, 2017.<br /><a name="7" id="7"></a>7 Telephone is the method of contact specified in 58% of reports indicating a monetary loss submitted directly to the FTC classified as “imposter: family/friend” and 84% of the subset of these reports with a payment method of cash. These figures exclude reports that do not indicate a contact method.<br /><a name="8" id="8"></a>8 This figure was determined through keyword analysis of the narratives provided in the specified subset of reports.<br /><a name="9" id="9"></a>9 Ibid.</small></p></div> </div> </div> Mon, 03 Dec 2018 13:20:39 +0000 rgiura 54372 at https://www.ftc.gov Not what you think: Millennials and fraud https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/data-visualizations/data-spotlight/2019/10/not-what-you-think-millennials-fraud <span property="schema:name">Not what you think: Millennials and fraud</span> <span rel="schema:author"><span lang="" about="/user/159" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">jwolf</span></span> <span property="schema:dateCreated" content="2019-10-01T13:26:42+00:00">October 1, 2019 | 9:26AM</span> <h3 class="node-title"><a href="/news-events/data-visualizations/data-spotlight/2019/10/not-what-you-think-millennials-fraud" hreflang="en">Not what you think: Millennials and fraud</a></h3> <div class="field field--name-field-author field--type-string field--label-inline"> <div class="field__label">By</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item">Emma Fletcher</div> </div> </div> <div property="schema:text" class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden"> <div class="field__items"> <div property="schema:text" class="field__item"><p><img alt="Millennials are 25% more likely than people 40+ to report losing money to fraud" src="/sites/default/files/u52513/spotlight-millennials-percentage-fraud.jpg" style="float:right; height:218px; margin:10px; width:242px" />People sometimes think scams mostly affect older adults, but reports to Consumer Sentinel tell a different story. People in their 20s and 30s, a cohort that roughly tracks the so-called Millennial generation, are 25% <em>more likely</em> to report losing money to fraud than people 40 and over generally,<sup><a href="#end1">1</a></sup> and <em>much more likely</em> to report a loss on certain types of fraud.</p> <p>The top five frauds to which Millennials report losing money are online shopping frauds, business imposters, government imposters, fake check scams, and romance scams. People 40+ report those same scams, too, but the data suggest that, with the exception of romance scams, Millennials may be less likely to avoid them or may encounter them more often. For example, Millennials are twice as likely as people 40+ to report losing money while shopping online. Frequently, shopping-related reports to the FTC are about items that are never delivered or aren’t as advertised. Millennials are also more likely than their older counterparts to report fraud losses on scams that promise to fix debt-related problems or that promise money through jobs, investments, or business opportunities.<sup><a href="#end2">2</a></sup> Millennials are 93% more likely than people 40+ to report losing money to fake check scams, which also often look like a way to earn money.<sup><a href="#end3">3</a></sup></p> <p align="center"><img alt="Loss Reports by Millennials: Top 10 Frauds - Millennials are more likely than other generations to report losing money on many frauds, but less likely on other frauds. Fraud types ranked by number of loss reports per million people 20-39. Percentages indicate the difference in loss reporting rates by people 20-39 as compared to people 40+. 1. Online Shopping 2. Business Imposter Scams 3. Government Imposter Scams 4. Fake Check Scams 5. Romance Scams 6. Business Opportunities/Work-At-Home Plans 7. Debt Management/Credit Counseling 8. Investment 9. Travel/Vacations 10. Tech Support Scams" src="/sites/default/files/u52513/spotlight-millennials-top-10-frauds.png" style="height:463px; width:670px" /></p> <p>The likelihood of losing money is just part of the story—<em>how much</em> people lose is also important. The median individual amount Millennials report losing to fraud is $400, much lower than what people 40+ report.<sup><a href="#end4">4</a></sup> But those individual losses add up: Millennials have reported losing nearly $450 million to fraud in just the past two years.<sup><a href="#end5">5</a></sup> Of that, online shopping accounted for $71 million in reported losses, and government imposter scams were close behind, with $61 million in reported losses.</p> <p>The likelihood of reporting a loss varies by how people are first contacted by a scammer, and there are age differences here, too. While phone calls are the top contact method reported for people of all ages, Millennials report losing money to phone scams at slightly lower rates than people 40+. But Millennials are <em>more likely</em> to report losing money to frauds that start in other ways<sup><a href="#end6">6</a></sup> —most notably, Millennials are 77% more likely than their older counterparts to say they lost money to a scam that started with an email.</p> <p>The most important takeaway: fraud affects <em>every</em> generation. If someone has contacted you to demand money or your personal information – stop. Talk to someone you trust. And check out the request.</p> <p>Here are some resources to help you navigate some of the scams hitting Millennials the hardest:</p> <ul><li>Tips for online shopping: <a href="http://www.ftc.gov/onlineshopping">ftc.gov/onlineshopping</a></li> <li>Watch out for bogus income offers: <a href="http://www.ftc.gov/jobs">ftc.gov/jobs</a></li> <li>Protect yourself from debt and credit scams: <a href="http://www.ftc.gov/debt">ftc.gov/debt</a></li> </ul><p>If you spot a scam, report it to the FTC at <a href="https://ftc.gov/complaint">ftc.gov/complaint</a>.</p> <hr /><p><small><a name="end1" title="" id="end1"> </a>1 From September 2017 through August 2019, people 20–39 filed fraud reports indicating that they lost money (“loss reports”) at a rate 25% higher than than people 40 and over. 47% of Sentinel fraud reports included usable age information during this period. The age comparison is normalized, based on the number of loss reports per million population by age. Population numbers used in this Spotlight were obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau <em>Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Selected Age Groups by Sex for the United States, States, Counties and Puerto Rico Commonwealth and Municipios</em> (June 2019).</small></p> <p><small><a name="end2" title="" id="end2"> </a>2 Based on a comparison of reporting rates by people 20–39 and people 40 and over on the following fraud types from September 2017 through August 2019 (percent difference in loss reporting rates as compared to people 40 and over noted in parentheses): advance-fee loans\credit arrangers (+34%), credit repair (+85%), debt management\credit counseling (+86%), business opportunities\work-at-home-plans (+42%), employment agencies\job counseling\overseas work (+380%), investment (+48%), and multi-level marketing\pyramids\chain letters (+90%). Age comparisons based on loss reports per million population by age</small></p> <p><small><a name="end3" title="" id="end3"> </a>3 People are often told to deposit a check and keep some of the money as payment for a phony offer to earn income. Using various ruses, scammers then direct people to send some of the money back to them. For example, people may believe they are buying equipment or supplies for an internship or sales job. Many people have reported using some of the money to send wire transfers or buy gift cards at a store they believed they were evaluating as a secret shopper. Once the bank identifies the check as a fake, the consumer may be responsible for any funds sent. These scams take advantage of unfamiliarity with how banks process checks and the terminology used. Banks are required to make check deposit funds available quickly, and consumer may even be told the check has “cleared.” However, it can take weeks for banks to identify a check as fraudulent.</small></p> <p><small><a name="end4" title="" id="end4"> </a>4 Median individual reported losses increase with age as follows: $500 for people 40-59, $640 for people 60-79. and $1,700 for people 80 and older. Median loss calculations are based on reports from September 2017 through August 2019 that indicated a monetary loss ($1 - $999,999).</small></p> <p><small><a name="end5" title="" id="end5"> </a>5 Figure is based on reports to Sentinel from September 2017 through August 2019 from people 20–39.</small></p> <p><small><a name="end6" title="" id="end6"> </a>6 The rank order of contact methods by loss reports filed by Millennials from September 2017 through August 2019 is as follows (percent difference in loss reporting rates as compared to people 40 and over noted in parentheses): phone (-5%), online (+14%), e-mail (+77%), consumer initiated contact (+23%), mail (+12%). Age comparisons are normalized, based on loss reports per million population by age.</small></p> </div> </div> </div> Tue, 01 Oct 2019 13:26:42 +0000 jwolf 54525 at https://www.ftc.gov Don’t bank on a “cleared” check https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/data-visualizations/data-spotlight/2020/02/dont-bank-cleared-check <span property="schema:name">Don’t bank on a “cleared” check</span> <span rel="schema:author"><span lang="" about="/user/224" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">sfelder</span></span> <span property="schema:dateCreated" content="2020-02-10T15:30:32+00:00">February 10, 2020 | 10:30AM</span> <h3 class="node-title"><a href="/news-events/data-visualizations/data-spotlight/2020/02/dont-bank-cleared-check" hreflang="en">Don’t bank on a “cleared” check</a></h3> <div class="field field--name-field-author field--type-string field--label-inline"> <div class="field__label">By</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item">Emma Fletcher</div> </div> </div> <div property="schema:text" class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden"> <div class="field__items"> <div property="schema:text" class="field__item"><p>Fake check scams take advantage of what we don’t know about how banks handle check deposits. Scammers <em>do</em> know, and they trick people into sending them money before the bank spots the fake. The FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network database shows that people reported more than 27,000 fake check scams in 2019, with reported losses topping $28 million dollars.<sup><a href="#end1">1</a></sup> And the data suggest that fake check scams disproportionately harm young adults – especially people in their twenties.</p> <p>Scammers have various fake check storylines, and job and income opportunities top the list. Last year, about 50% of people who reported a fake check scam to the FTC said they were offered a job or some other way to earn money.<sup><a href="#end2">2</a></sup> Nearly half of those were fake mystery shopping jobs, and many others were phony <em>car</em>-<em>wrap advertising opportunities.</em> In another 18% of the reports, people said they got a fake check as payment for something they were selling online.</p> <p>Fake check scams have two telltale elements – a check to deposit and a plausible explanation for why you can’t keep all the money. The checks come in many varieties: a business or personal check, a cashier’s check, money order, or even a check delivered electronically. The ploys to get you to send back some of the money also vary. Potential mystery shoppers are told to use some of the money to “evaluate” a retailer by buying gift cards or money orders, or by wiring money through MoneyGram or Western Union. (The scammers make sure to get the gift card PIN number from you, or delay you from canceling the money order.) People who apply online and are hired as “personal assistants” are told to use the money to buy gift cards for the new boss (and, again, to give up those PIN numbers). People interested in car wrap advertising are told to send money to supposed decal installers – who never materialize. People buying something from you online “accidently” send a check for too much and ask you to refund the balance.</p> <p style="text-align:center"><img alt="Scammers tell lots of stories to trick people to send money back after depositing a fake check, including mystery shopping, online selling, loans, personal assistant, other jobs, car wrapping, winnings and grants and other stories." src="/sites/default/files/u251195/fake_check_stories.png" style="height:auto; margin:0 auto; max-width:800px; width:100%" /></p> <p>These scams work because, once you deposit a check, you quickly see the funds in your account. Parting with some of that money then feels risk-free. But scammers know that while the law says banks have to make funds from deposited checks available within a day or two, it can take weeks to uncover a fake. Some scammers even tell you to wait for the check to “clear” before sending money. When it ultimately bounces, the bank can take back the amount of the fake check, leaving you on the hook for the money.</p> <div style="border-bottom:5px solid #5d99d5; border-top:5px solid #5d99d5; float:right; font-size:1.15rem; margin-bottom:10px; margin-left:10px; margin-right:10px; margin-top:10px; padding:10px 0; width:33%">Say you deposited a check for $1,000 and sent $600. A while later, the bank finds out the check was fake. It withdraws the full $1,000 from your account. Now, you’re out $600. If you didn’t have money in your account to cover that loss, you also have a negative balance.</div> <p>The number of reports made directly to the FTC about fake checks are on the rise – they’re up by about 65% over 2015 levels.<sup><a href="#end3">3</a></sup> What’s more, no other fraud among last year’s top ten most frequently reported scams came close to the individual losses people reported on fake check scam last year.<sup><a href="#end4">4</a></sup> The median individual loss reported on fake checks was $1,988, compared to $320 on all fraud types combined. And people reported that the scammers often asked to be paid by gift card or wire transfer. Con artists favor these payment methods because once the money is sent, it is almost impossible to trace or reverse.</p> <p>Younger people are hit especially hard. Last year, people in their twenties were more than twice as likely as people 30 and older to report losing money on a fake check scam.<sup><a href="#end5">5</a></sup> Many college students have reported that the scam started with a message sent to their student email address. Scammers make these emails seem official – they may even impersonate the school’s career services office.</p> <p>To avoid these scams, here are a few things to know:</p> <ul><li>If someone sends you a check and tells you to send money – whether by wiring money or buying gift cards – you can bet it’s a scam.</li> <li>Even if you see the money in your account, the bank can still take it back if the check later bounces. If you don’t know the person who wrote the check, don’t send money. Period.</li> <li>If you’re selling online, never accept a check for more than your asking price.</li> </ul><p>To learn more about what to do if you have already sent money to a scammer, visit ftc.gov/fakechecks. If you paid a scammer with a gift card, visit <a href="/giftcards">ftc.gov/giftcards</a>. If you spot a scam, report it to the FTC at <a href="/complaint">ftc.gov/complaint</a>.</p> <hr /><p><small><a name="end1" title="" id="end1"> </a>1 These figures are based on fraud reports classified as “counterfeit check scams” submitted in 2019 by any person or data contributor and stored in the Consumer Sentinel Network database.  </small></p> <p><small><a name="end2" title="" id="end2"> </a>2 Figures pertaining to the nature of the scammers’ stories are based on keyword analysis of the narratives provided in 2019 reports classified as “counterfeit check scams.” </small></p> <p><small><a name="end3" title="" id="end3"> </a>3 This figure is based on 14,017 reports about fake check scams submitted directly to the FTC in 2015 as compared to 23,064 such reports in 2019. In 2016, 2017, and 2018 respectively, 15,840, 17,870 , and 18,463 such reports were submitted. These figures exclude data contributors to ensure the data reflects consistency in complaint capture over time. </small></p> <p><small><a name="end4" title="" id="end4"> </a>4 Of the nearly 60 Sentinel fraud subcategories, fake check scams ranked ninth based on the total number of fraud reports submitted in 2019. Of the ten most frequently reported frauds, government imposter scams had the second highest reported median individual loss of $1,100. Reports classified as unspecified are excluded.</small></p> <p><small><a name="end5" title="" id="end5"> </a>5 In 2019, 77% of fake check reports included usable age information. This age comparison is normalized based on the number of loss reports per million population by age. Population numbers were obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Selected Age Groups by Sex for the United States, States, Counties and Puerto Rico Commonwealth and Municipios (June 2019). </small></p> </div> </div> </div> Mon, 10 Feb 2020 15:30:32 +0000 sfelder 54628 at https://www.ftc.gov