With web shopping, web romances and digital communication becoming more commonplace, an increasing number of consumers are falling victim to online scams. In fact, a recent report by the FBI reveals that reports of internet crimes soared in 2020, up nearly 70% when compared to the previous year.
According to the FBI’s findings, “The top three crimes reported by victims in 2020 were phishing scams, non-payment/non-delivery scams, and extortion. Victims lost the most money to business email compromise scams, romance and confidence schemes, and investment fraud. Notably, 2020 saw the emergence of scams exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic. The IC3 received over 28,500 complaints related to COVID-19, with fraudsters targeting both businesses and individuals.”
Phishing scams bait unwitting victims into clicking a link that appears to be from a legitimate source. Clicking a fake link that seems to be from your bank or job, for example, can give scammers access to sensitive information that may be later used for a variety of fraudulent activity.
Non-payment/non-delivery scams are just that: A purchaser pays for an item in good faith, but never receives the product.
Romance scams play on the vulnerability of those searching for that special someone online. Data shows older Americans are most susceptible to these instances of theft: In 2020 alone, senior citizens lost nearly $1 billion in the digital space.
“Romance scams occur when a criminal adopts a fake online identity to gain a victim’s affection and confidence,” the FBI said. “Often, the scammer will utilize religion to garner trust with the victim. The scammer uses the illusion of a romantic or close relationship to manipulate and/or steal from the victim. The criminals who carry out Romance scams are experts at what they do and will seem genuine, caring, and believable.”
According to the FBI’s most recent Internet Crime Report, these states lead the nation in victims of online scams:
- New York
- New Jersey
Despite the rise in internet crimes with financial motive, the FBI says they have dedicated much time to thwarting the efforts of online scammers.
“With our dedicated resources focused on recovering funds and preventing further victimization, we are better
aligned to confront the unique challenges faced in cyberspace.” The report stated.
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