DA warns of uptick in online shopping scams, other frauds

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Enjoy using that app for your grocery and household shopping?

Like the convenience of buying what you need online without leaving the house?

Just make sure it’s really the app that you’re engaging with or the official page for the company you’re shopping from and not a spammer who create a fake website or link to trick unsuspecting consumers into turning over their valuable financial information.

According to the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office, imposters proved to be the top fraud of 2022 followed by online shopping, prizes, sweepstakes and lotteries, investments, and business and job opportunities.

And last year fraud cost American consumers more money than most people even realize.

The FTC, which tracks online fraud and publishes information to warn people about falling victim to online scams, reported that in 2022 there were 2.4 million fraud reports filed with the agency resulting in $8.8 billion in losses.

While the number of fraud reports in 2022 declined from 2.9 million reports filed in 2022, the amount of money that the scammers were able to take off consumers increased from the $6.8 billion reported in 2021.

Given the economic uncertainty that the COVID-19 pandemic has created for American consumers, it’s not that surprising that the number of investment scams more than doubled in 2022. In 2021 consumers reported losing $1.8 billion to investment scams – a number that more than doubled to $3.8 billion in 2022.

Losses to imposter businesses has increased sharply as well.

According to the FTC, $196 million was lost to imposter businesses – websites that are setup to look authentic but exist only to steal the information input by consumers – in 2020, and $453 million was lost in 2021 to the same technique.

Last year, in 2022, consumers lost $660 million to fake businesses online.

The highest overall reported losses in 2022 out of any single medium were found in social media where hackers and scammers were able to take $1.2 billion off unsuspecting consumers. While social media giants like Facebook have worked to try and stamp out fake businesses as they pop up, scammers have gone so far as to recreate authentic-looking websites that they advertise on those platforms to try and fool customers.

The phone scam also hasn’t gone away.

According to the fact sheet published by the FTC, the average victim of an over-the-phone scam lost $1,400.

Additional information about the FTC report can be found by visiting the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s website at www.sjgov.org/DA.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email jcampbell@mantecabulletin.com or call 209.249.3544.

 

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