By Osaji Obi
A new study found tech-savvy teens are falling for online scams at a higher rate than seniors.
In the last five years, money lost by Victims 20 and younger grew nearly 2,500% from 2017 to 2022 compared to 805% for seniors.
Victims under 20 lost $8.2 million in 2017 compared to $210 million in 2022. Seniors remain by far the most victimized group overall losing $3.1 billion in 2022, but the surge of young victims speaks to the growing sophistication of scammers.
Overall, a record $10.3 billion was lost to online scams in 2022, up from $6.9 billion.
Florida is the No. 2 most-scammed state with 42,792 victims losing $844 million.
Young people should remain vigilant when they socialize, work, date and play games online.
Here are 5 Common Scams Targeting Teens in 2023:
1) Social Media Influencer Scam: Teens idolize their favorite influencers. Scammers will create fake accounts that look just like the actual influencers’ account. They host a fake brand-sponsored contest and ask the “winner” to pay a fee or provide their bank account to win the prize.
How to Avoid: Only follow the official influencer account, fake accounts have fewer followers. Never send money or bank information to anyone you do not know.
2) Romance Scams: Scammers steal photos of good-looking people and target young, vulnerable people online. They make the victim fall in love and begin asking for money.
How to Avoid: Perform a reverse search to confirm their identity. If they will not video chat or meet, they are a scammer.
3) Sextortion Scams: Teens use smartphones for sexting which has now led to sextortion. Scammers pose as an attractive person; they send an explicit image and ask for one in return. Once received, the scammers threaten to make the photo public if a ransom is not paid. Many teen sextortion victims take their own lives.
How to Avoid: Never send explicit images online or by phone. If the person you are falling for will not meet or video chat think twice before sending anything.
4) Online Gaming In-App Purchases: When online gaming, players can make in-app purchases to enhance the gaming experience. Scammers are tricking children into giving credit card information and downloading malware for nonexistent rewards.
How to Avoid: Only make purchases directly from the game’s manufacturer.
5) Online Shopping: Fake websites are created that look like an online store selling items at a huge discount. If you buy, the item never arrives, they pocket the money and steal your credit card and personal information for future online theft.
How to Avoid: Make sure the website is not full of typos. If the “customer service” email is “gmail.com” or “yahoo.com” that is a red flag. Research the company.
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