A recent study conducted by the Better Business Bureau (BBB), FINRA, and the Stanford Center for Longevity, revealed the most lucrative ways scammers steal money from unsuspecting victims. Of the 1,408 people interviewed over a 3 year period, the average amount lost per victim amounted to $600. While many people who were contacted by scammers knew immediately they were not a legitimate organization or website, 30% of people in the study engaged with the scammer before realizing fraud was afoot and 23% did not detect a scam and lost money as a result.

Most scammers contacted their potential victims by email or phone, however, relatively few people lost money this way. On the other hand, significantly more people lost money on platforms other than email and by phone, such as social media and through websites. Up to 53% of people contacted by scammers using these platforms reported losing money. So, which scams do you need to be extra vigilant around? Read on to see the top 5 scams to be extra wary of. 

Fake Sweepstakes, Contests, and Prizes

Everyone wants to win big, but most of the time it’s too good to be true. Scammers will try to trick people into thinking they have won a contest they never entered, but first they have to pay a fee to claim their prize. In the study, 59% of those interviewed reported experiencing this type of scam and 15% lost money.

Fake Checks or Money Orders

In this method, scammers send victims fake checks and coerce them to deposit it, and then ask for some money back via wire transfer due to an “overpayment.” This relies heavily on banks not noticing the check is fraudulent before the victim sends money back. Of those participating in the study, 22% lost money in this manner.

Employment Scams

Scammers pose as potential employers and trick victims into thinking a job offer is on the table. The scam continues as scammers trick victims into sending payments for training, equipment, or a fake background check. 81% of the interviewees in the study engaged with this type of scam and 25% lost money, making it one of the most successful types of fraudulent ways scammers make money off of their victims.

Fake Tech Support

More often than not, this type of scam usually presents itself as a pop up, an ad, or an email that tells viewers their computer may be infected with a virus. Once the users engage with the fake ad/email, scammers pretend to be IT professionals and demand money in exchange for their services in ridding their device of the fake virus. While 64% engaged with this type of scam, 32% lost money. 

Online Purchase Scams

These types of scams are both highly reported and high successful with 84% engaging in this type and 47% losing money. Websites like eBay and Craigslist are saturated with these scams and they can take on many different forms. Most often, scammers list items, sell those items, and never ship said items. In addition, sometimes scammers will buy items with a fake check and ask for a partial refund for “overpaying”.