A photo of a woman's hand holding a mobile phone. There is a book open in front of her and her other hand is on a laptop keyboard. There is a website open on her laptop that looks like it has spreadsheets on it. There is a cup of coffee to the left of the laptop and a pair of glasses resting on a notebook by the coffee cup.

A woman holding a mobile phone and using her laptop.

Scams are everywhere these days, and they come in all shapes and sizes. Technology has been a great asset for scammers to get their hands on unsuspecting victims, but it’s not the only place they lurk.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the top five latest scams of 2023.

One of the most popular scams is social media fraud occurring on social media platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram.

Reports from the FTC in 2022 indicate adults under 60 are more likely to get scammed on social media, and report losing more money.

The idea that scams are only for seniors is a myth.

Scamming by the Numbers

Let’s talk some scamming by the numbers so you can see how often scams occur and know that it can happen to anyone.

The most common scams and fraud in 2022 were investment scams, imposter scams, and identity theft.

Imposter scams can include things such as pretending to be government officials, posing as representing of a business, tech support scams, or even pretending to be a friend or family member. Imposter scams cost people $2.6 Billion in 2022.

Investment scams in 2022 had a reported $3.8 billion in losses, more than people lost in any other type of scam.

The “Pig-Butchering” or Crypto Currency Romance Scam

How the scam works:

In this scam, cyber thieves combine crypto scam and romance scams, posing as a love interest and convince targets to download an app and invest in fake crypto accounts.

The scammer convinces the target they’re putting their own money into the crypto funds and the fake app displays the wealth growing.

This scam is longer term, because the fraudster needs to gain the trust of the target, pretending to be a love interest, luring the target into a financial trap, the “butchering” phase, where their victim loses everything.

How to stay safe:

Make sure to scrutinize any investment opportunity, even if you’ve been investing a long time. People think it’s not going to happen to them because they’re smart, these scams can happen to anyone.

Be suspicious of any stranger on a dating app or the internet who initiates a fast friendship, is overly affectionate and talkative, and is pressuring you into any business ventures or investments.

Student Loan Forgiveness Scams

Whenever there is a government relief program announced, scammers appear. One of the most highly-publicized relief initiatives is student loan forgiveness or student debt relief programs.

How the scam works:

Fraudsters contact student debt borrowers via phone calls and emails. They use a generic business name or pose as a federal loan servicer.

They might offer services, such as loan consolidation or partial loan forgiveness. They claim to speed up the loan repayment process or to help lower monthly payments (for a fee).

If the target falls for the fraudulent offer, they’ve provided sensitive information to a criminal or criminal syndicate, including personally identifiable information (PII), such as Social Security Numbers (SSN), IDs, financial & banking information, and other items for the fake application.

How to stay safe:

If someone calls you claiming to be a loan servicer, avoid providing any information to them. Instead, contact your loan servicer directly, using the contact information from your billing statement, or the official website.

Job Scams (work-from-home scams)

The proliferation of fake job scams on job search websites, such as LinkedIn, Indeed, Otta are extremely common. In these scams, fraudsters pose as recruiters and fool their targets into providing personal information, their resume, and sending money for supplies, training, and computer equipment for the job.

How the scam works:

Scammers put up fake job listings that offer good pay, perks and promotion opportunities. The fraudsters pretend to be recruiters or employers, posing as legitimate companies (even using their names), and reach out directly to users on job websites like LinkedIn.

When someone accepts a job, scammers collect the sensitive information, such as a credit card numbers, account information, Social Security Numbers (SSN), and other sensitive documents that can be used to steal your identity.

Often, victims of job scams are told to make payments for expenses and job training, something a legitimate company would not ask of a job candidate.

How to stay safe:

Make sure to do your research before getting too far in an interview process with any potential employer. Search for the name of the business, the recruiting company with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and look at the job rating and review website, Glassdoor to see what other employees say about the company.

One-time Password or 2FA Bot Scams

Scammers use automated programs or bots to deceive people into sharing the two-factor authentication codes sent to them via text or email from financial institutions or companies (Amazon, cryptocurrency exchanges).

The bot makes a robocall or sends a code that appears to come from your bank, asking you to authorize a charge, followed by asking you to enter an authentication code you’ve been sent if the transaction is yours.

The scammer behind the bot is attempting to log into your account and needs the code that the bank sent to you so that it can access your accounts.

Once the fraudster has access to your assets, they’ll take your money and run.

How to stay safe:

Don’t share your authentication codes with anyone, or provide other information in response to an unsolicited call or text.

Zelle, Venmo, and Cash App Scams

Purchases made through your bank account are generally reversible, with payment app transactions it’s like giving cash directly to someone. If you accidentally pay a scammer via these apps, the money is likely gone for good.

Here are common payment app scams:

Scammers target online sellers by posing as a buyer and “accidentally” overpaying the seller via payment app by using a stolen credit card. The scammer then requests a refund directly to their own bank account, but then the real card owner reports the transaction as fraud, the money comes out of your account, not the scammers account.

Fraudsters can spoof text messages that look like they’re bank fraud alerts coming from your bank. When you call the number from the text message, you’ll be connected to the scammers who might pressure you to share personally identifiable information or to transfer money to a secure account.

Cyber thieves create phishing emails or text that look like they’re from a payment app, such as CashApp, Zelle or Venmo. The messages prompt you to click on a link and sign in to your account. In reality, the link takes you to a fake website that steals your login credentials, and gives scammers access to your online accounts.

How to stay safe:

Treat all your online transactions like cash, and use payment apps carefully, know your rights as a user. If you get a message that appears like it’s coming directly from a payment app company, verify by logging into your account directly through the app or website.

How to Protect Yourself from Scammers

Scammers will take every opportunity to take advantage of people, especially if your information is readily available and accessible.

Consider some of the following steps to reduce your chances of being victimized:

  • Freeze your credit with all three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion).
  • Set up fraud alerts on your bank accounts and credit cards.
  • Update your passwords, and enable two-factor authentication (2FA) wherever possible.
  • Register your phone number on the FTC’s Do Not Call Registry (donotcall.gov) This should lower the level of spam and robocalls you receive.
  • If you’ve had identity theft in the past, consider having identity theft protection.

No matter what happens, take care of your mental health, and talk to the people you trust if you get scammed. It’s better to talk to people about what happened to you, to share your story and instead of feeling ashamed, share your knowledge.

You can reduce your chances of being scammed by 80% when they know about a scam in advance. 😊

If you need immediate help for identity theft or after you’ve been scammed, report it to the FTC on their website. Additionally, report the scam to the FBI at ic3.gov, and then file a police report. Take the report from the FTC with you to the police station. This is important. If you met this person, and gave them money, or they have information on you, they may try steal your identity.

If you’re still needing assistance, you can book a consult here: https://lockdownyourlife.as.me/strategy.