(WTAJ) — Pennsylvania residents lost over $108 million through online scams in 2020 and ranks No. 8 in money lost to scams across the United States, according to a study conducted by Social Catfish.
Social Catfish is an online search and verification site for identifying online identities. Their study utilized data from the Internet Crime Complaint Center, Federal Trade Commission and Federal Bureau of Investigation. Pennsylvanians lost $108,506,204 while over $4.2 billion was lost in 2020 across the United States. $7.6 billion was reported stolen from 2017 to 2019.
TOP 10 STATES IMPACTED BY INTERNET SCAMS
BOTTOM 10 STATES IMPACTED BY INTERNET SCAMS
DEMOGRAPHICS OF SCAM VICTIMS
Younger people have been reported to have the fastest growth rate of victims, specifically people age 20 and under. They have displayed the fastest growth rate since 2017. In 2017, there were 9,053 victims in that age group. That number grew to 23,186 victims in 2020.
Where are they getting scammed the most? According to a poll conducted by Social Catfish, Facebook is the top platform. Google Hangouts, Instagram, WhatsApp and Plenty of Fish round out the top five.
These scammers aren’t just coming from the United States. In fact, they don’t even rank in the top five for scammer origins. According to the study, Nigeria, China, India, Romania and Mexico conduct the most internet scams against residents of the United States.
WHAT TECH IS USED FOR SCAMS?
A new type of scam is on the rise: spoofing. Spoofing is where scammers can impersonate the number of someone else over the phone: your bank, your credit card company, your employer, etc.
Scammers also use robocalls, viruses, pop-up advertisements and fake profiles to scam victims. Scams can fall into your email inbox too; scammers will attach links to fake websites and pretend to be trusted businesses. These links could pretend to be finance companies claiming your bank account was hacked or social media accounts asking you to “reset your password.”
And before you let your guard down on online dating sites, think again. Scammers have been known to create fake profiles on dating apps to catfish victims. Catfishing is when someone creates a fake identity online with a false name and photos of another person, oftentimes a social media influencer that is not super well-known.
HOW TO AVOID SCAMMERS
Internet scammers are constantly developing new methods of attack to steal money. However, there are some things you can keep in mind while online and patterns you can recognize:
- Do not give money to someone on the Internet whom you have never met in person.
- Do not give out your personal information to someone with whom you are talking online.
- Keep updated with resources, such as the State of Internet Scams 2021 Scam Guide.
- Do not trust that someone is who they say they are without at least video chatting with them or meeting them in person first.
- If they have a job overseas, this is a huge red flag that they might be a scammer since they usually use this as an excuse to not see you or video chat with you.
- If someone is randomly contacting you out of the blue on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, it usually means that a scammer is on the other side.
- Make sure to have a password manager to create many passwords for your accounts. This will prevent scammers from easily guessing your passwords.
- Use AI technology to find scam emails before they can fool you into thinking they are real.
- Search up your email on our email address reverse search to make sure your information hasn’t been compromised by a data breach.
If you or someone you know was a victim of fraud, report it to the FTC, FBI and IC3.