According to the FBI Cyber Crime Report, Americans lost $6.9 billion to cybercrime in 2021. Although more than half of victims are over 60 years old, the targets of fraud are getting younger. In fact, in 2022, Gen Xers, Millennials, and Gen Zs are more likely than seniors to report a fraudulent loss thanks to some new scams.
Regardless of age, everyone should be aware of the ways fraudsters sneak into their bank accounts. They work through phone calls, texts, emails, social media, and sometimes even in person. Regardless of the avenue of attack, victims can easily face financial ruin.
DeKalb County Sheriff Nick Weldon has issued a warning to residents due to a particular scam that has been going on locally for years.
“Scammers are sending a message through Facebook, Messenger or email, but it looks like it’s from one of your friends,” Weldon explained. “Friends’ accounts have been hacked and victims are receiving messages saying they have won money but have to pay tax on the winnings. We have had many victims send payments for alleged taxes to fake foreign accounts. Please talk to your family members and let them know this is a scam and all taxes will be paid directly to the IRS.
“Please talk to your loved ones and encourage them to never give out any personal information until they know exactly who they are talking to,” Weldon said.
Some other popular cheats used are:
1) Long game cons have grown in popularity with the rise of cryptocurrency. The most famous of these is called the “Pork Slaughter” scam.
The beginning seems innocent. You are drawn into the conversation either through social media comments that switch to private messages, or more often than not, a “wrong number” text. The message will usually refer to a planned dinner or meeting and prompt you to respond to them. They’ll apologize and engage you in a heart-to-heart conversation, pretending to be the victim of being upstaged by someone they just met. This is known as “fattening the pig”. They’ll briefly mention that they invested in cryptocurrency and feel stupid about it because they know it’s a joke, then change the subject. A few weeks or a month later, you get an excited text asking if you remember them. They will excitedly tell you that this is not a joke and that they are shocked that they made a profit, and offer to send you a link to the program for investments. The app looks real and sometimes even has fake security features and entices you with “micro-investments” of up to $5. After you deposit a small amount, it will show growth within few days and will make you invest more.
While all investments are risky, there is little protection, especially when it comes to cryptocurrency
especially when investments can be made through a cash transfer account. These avenues are not protected from fraud like a credit card.
Always be suspicious of random internet or phone dates that try to establish a personal relationship. If they start talking about investments, that’s your red flag to cut off all communication immediately.
2) With all the news about student loan forgiveness, the confusion surrounding it has been a magnet for fraudsters. Always make sure the website starts with https:/ and ends with .gov.
There are several fake sites masquerading as official federal loan services that will offer loan consolidation, lower payments, or faster forgiveness (for a fee, of course). Simply filling out an application online gives scammers all the information they need to ruin your life — your social security number, social security numbers, financial information, and more. gives
Never follow links from unsolicited emails or pop-ups, and avoid talking to anyone who contacts you claiming to be your credit provider. Hang up and contact them directly from your billing statement or through their official website.
3) If you have items listed for sale on online marketplaces, these scammers will contact you posing as an interested buyer. Using the phone number listed in the ad, they will create a Google Voice account. They will then contact you and explain how they were cheated when shopping in the marketplace before and send you a verification code for security reasons.
Google automatically sends a verification code to the phone number listed in the setup. If you share it, that scammer may now start using a new phone number unrelated to his identity.
Remember that if Google ever sends you an authorization or verification code, it’s only for YOU and is tied to your account and name. There is no reason why anyone should need the codes shared with them.
4) Another scam targeting online sellers is “accidental overpayment”. The buyer will “accidentally” add an extra zero or two to their payment using the stolen credit card through the payment program. They will claim refunds directly into their bank accounts so they “don’t have to wait a few days for a refund.” After the actual credit card holder reports the fraud, the money comes out of YOUR account.
If you pay a scammer through Zelle, Venmo, or the Cash App, it’s basically the same as giving them cash. These operations are more or less irreversible.
5) Since Covid-19 started the telecommuting trend, several scammers have developed work-from-home scams through fake job postings that require you to provide personal information or send money to cover expensive supplies and training. Sometimes they will impersonate employers and connect directly with users on job sites like LinkedIn. After filling out an application sent to your email, instead of taking that amazing job offer, your identity is stolen.
6) Rental artists will steal photos of rental properties that don’t belong to them and create their own ads for them. They will either steal your information with a rental application or take it a step further and demand an immediate down payment due to the high interest in the unit and promise a refund if you change your mind. They will allow you to sign by email, pay the deposit and rent. If not through a reputable rental company with a secure website, insist on in-person appointments to tour the unit.
Falling for scams like this doesn’t mean you’re not smart. It just shows that you are being taken advantage of. Be wary of unwanted “time-sensitive” offers and think before you click. If someone asks for information, stop before handing it over and ask yourself why they would need it.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, everyday things like opening an email attachment, following a link in a text message, or making an online purchase can open you up to online criminals looking to damage your systems or steal from you. Preventing Internet crimes and cyber intrusions requires awareness and vigilance from all of us. Here it is:
• Keep systems and software up-to-date and install strong, reputable antivirus software.
• Create strong and unique passphrases for every online account you have and change them regularly. Using the same password on multiple accounts makes you more vulnerable if one account is compromised.
• Do not open any attachments unless you are expecting a file, document or invoice and have not confirmed the sender’s email address.
• Be careful when connecting to a public Wi-Fi network and avoid any sensitive transactions, including purchases, while on a public network.
• Avoid using free exchange desks at airports, hotels or shopping malls. Bad actors have found ways to use public USB ports to deliver malware and monitoring software to devices accessing these ports. Bring your own charger and USB cable and use a power outlet.
Protect your money and data
• Verify the email address on all correspondence and carefully check website URLs. Fraudsters often imitate a legitimate website or email address by using spelling changes. Or the email may appear to come from a legitimate company, but the actual email address is suspicious.
• Do not click on a link in an unsolicited text message or email that asks you to update, verify, or confirm your account information. If you are concerned about the status of your account, visit the company’s website to access your account or call the phone number listed on the official website to find out if something really needs your attention.
• Carefully check all electronic requests for payment or money transfer.
• Be extremely skeptical of any message that urges you to take immediate action.
• Shop online with a credit card for an extra level of fraud protection.
• Do not send money to anyone you meet online or allow someone you do not know well to access your bank account or transfer money abroad.
If you are a victim of online or internet-related crime, report it to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) as soon as possible. A quick report can also help recover lost funds. For more information, visit ic3.gov.
Are you receiving suspicious messages? Report it to the Federal Trade Commission so they can help protect others.