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New Study: Teens Falling for Online Scams Faster Than Their Grandparents – Florida No. 2 Most-Scammed State


By Osaji Obi

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.

Social Catfish – a reverse search technology company – released a study on the State of Internet Scams 2023 using 2023 data from the FBI IC3 and FTC.

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.

If you are the victim of a scam or attempted scam report it to the FTC, IC3FBI and IdentityTheft.gov.

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