It’s horrible what people go through when they get scammed. Not only do they lose huge amounts of money, but they feel violated and I think that that is one if the worst feelings in the world. This is why I decided to do a little bit of research and got informed on some very interesting and most shocking online scamming statistics.
The Internet is the defining technology of our century, and for good reason. The online world is a vast place, a network that interconnects a large variety of different kinds of information and different kinds of people. Most of these people are fairly reasonable individuals and you can more or less expect them to behave decently. Like any other huge community, however, there is also an underbelly of criminals on the Internet where the few scammers, thieves, and other undesirables reside.
It may seem to you that online scams are something that only naive people fall for, but that’s not necessarily true. Any normal person can become a victim of online scams, because they take on so many different forms; without the right information, even smart people can be susceptible to the games that these scammers play. Though it is true that most people either don’t encounter or don’t fall for online scams, it is a growing trend, and fraudsters still ruin lives just the same.
In fact, you may be surprised by the dire statistics of these trends. Here are a few facts you may not have even thought about:
More than a quarter of a million people sought help from the FBI’s online fraud complaint center, and as you might imagine, this is probably only a small percentage of the actual people who have been defrauded.
Remember that a large portion of those who are scammed, especially with common romance and 419 online cons, are likely to keep their mistake a secret out of embarrassment. The real statistics could easily paint a much more extreme picture of the situation.
Victims Lost on Average $2,971 USD
Also in 2014, these were the IC3’s findings on the personal financial cost of the scams that they had recorded. This average, of course, includes people who did not suffer a monetary loss; when the statistics are adjusted to include only those who did indeed lose money, the average loss shoots up to a hefty $6,472 per person.
The Scams Affect Both Genders Nearly Equally
Men get scammed slightly more than women do, but the numbers are neck in neck, and victims were about 52% male and 48% female. Men seem to generally lose more money than women when they fall for a scam, however, especially auto scams and real estate scams. For example, men paid around twice as much to auto scammers than women did in 2014.
It’s Not Just One Demographic
Many times, the stereotype is that naive older people are more likely to get scammed since they are seen as more trusting and less computer literate, but statistics from the IC3 paint a different picture. People over 60 make up less than 17% of the complaints while those between 20 and 59 make up the vast majority (roughly 80%). It could also be that seniors are less likely to report the crime when they are defrauded, are unaware of how to do so, or simply don’t use the Internet as much as their younger brethren. Those below the age of 20 make up only about 3.5% of victims, but this could be largely due to the problem of their having less disposable income than older, more established people.
→The 3 Most Popular Scams Are Not What You Might Expect:
1) Auto Fraud
This is a kind of scam where a prospective vehicle owner is searching for a car to purchase, and finds one for an unusually low price. The scammer, claiming to be too busy to allow the buyer to inspect the vehicle in person, insists that the victim send him money ahead of time to secure the payment, usually through some untraceable means like a wire. When it comes to auto fraud, men are much more likely to lose significant amounts of money than women, and those between 30 and 49 are the demographic most heavily affected. This fraud in particular collectively costs victims more than $20,000,000 per year.
2) Real Estate Fraud
Real estate fraud functions very similarly to auto fraud, and can involve houses being listed at unrealistically low prices in order to attract buyers who are eager to make a deal. Once the victim is lured with this honey pot, the scammer may pressure them to wire their payment for the non-existent house. Another kind of real estate fraud can also involve the common practice of filling in an application for a credit check; instead of using this for legitimate purposes, however, the scammer asks the victim to fill in the forms to see if they qualify for some kind of real estate deal, and then simply keeps the personal information to steal the victim’s identity.
The majority of money lost to real estate scams in 2014 belonged to individuals over 50, and the costs were significant (more than $19,000,000 dollars overall).
3) Government Impersonation Scams
Some fraudsters impersonate a government entity in order to extort money from victims. According to the IC3, government impersonation scams alone resulted in an average of $23,200 lost per day. Victims are often taken in by the official-looking seals and graphics that may appear on rogue emails that they receive, and they may end up sending money or their personal information to the scammers for fear of facing bureaucratic problems.
Out of all the age groups, people between 30 and 39 collectively lost the most money in this scam. During tax season and other times of frequent interaction with the government, one should always keep in mind that government entities will never send emails that are unsolicited; if you don’t remember contacting the IRS, the email you have received from them is a scam.
As you can see, online scamming is on the rise, and Internet criminals can be very creative in how they dupe people into giving them money. They use all sorts of tactics, from tempting people with great deals and failing to deliver, to using the looming threat of government power to get their victims to comply.
The best we can do to combat these forces is to remain vigilant and to treat any sort of unsolicited contact or “too good to be true” deal with the suspicion that it deserves. In addition, always pay using methods that are traceable, or you may find that your seller has disappeared when it’s time to receive your goods.
I have been scammed so many times and am a little embarrassed about that, however, I have learned a great deal from it. I have learned so much that I am warning the world about it. If, by writing this article, I could save one person from being scammed, then my mission has been accomplished.