Consumers beware! Scammers stole $8.8 billion in 2022
by pedro graterol
During an Ethnic Media Services news briefing held on March 10, 2023, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) revealed that even though the number of fraud reports decreased from 2.9 million in 2021 to 2.4 million in 2022, the total amount of money lost by consumers and small businesses increased dramatically to $8.8 billion. In addition, imposter fraud and online shopping were the most common scams. However, investor fraud ended up costing consumers the most, totaling $3.8 billion. The majority of this was lost to cryptocurrency scams.
The news briefing also highlighted how scammers target ethnic communities in unique ways. For example, in the Latino community, the top report was on impostor scams, with most Latino communities filing a higher percentage of reports relating to problems with banks and lenders, debt collection, auto issues, and business opportunities. Rosario Mendez, Attorney for the Division of Consumer and Business Education Bureau of the Consumer Protection Federal Trade Commission, stated that the FTC has had several cases related to bogus business opportunities and work-at-home scams specifically targeting Latinos. Similarly, the largest number of reports from the black community was about payday loan applications and student debt relief programs.
While telephone scams continued to be prevalent, the officials identified the changing role of social media. Last year, social media was the contact method with the highest aggregated dollar loss, with consumers losing $1.2 billion. This is especially common with cryptocurrency schemes. Consumers should be very careful because scammers have developed websites that seem legitimate and even show fake dashboards that indicate how consumers’ money is presumably “growing”. The FTC is working to combat these scams by providing resources to help consumers spot and avoid fraudulent activity.
Because of these increasingly elaborate and targeted methods, the FTC experts highlighted the need for consumers to spot and protect themselves against fraud. Cristina Miranda, Consumer Education Specialist, mentioned that fraud affects every community and scammers often target people who are new to the U.S. system and culture. To address this issue, the FTC has new resources in over 12 languages at consumer.ftc.gov/features/languages. There, consumers can find information about scam prevention in Amharic, Arabic, and Chinese — both simplified and traditional — French, Hmong, Korean, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Tagalog, Vietnamese, and Ukrainian. We are all susceptible to scams and to prevent them, consumers should be wary of any unsolicited requests for money or personal information, and should report any suspicious activity to the FTC. If you want to report a fraud or find further information, visit https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/#/, in Spanish, https://reportefraude.ftc.gov/#/
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