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Top 3 online scams teens and parents should know about — plus, how to avoid them | #DatingScams | #LoveScams | #RomanceScans

NEW YORK — Teenagers are falling for online scams at a high rate, and the data to back it up is alarming.

In the last five years, money lost by teens grew nearly 2,500% from 2017 to 2022, compared to 805% for senior citizens, according to recent data from the FBI.

It also shows victims under 20 lost $210 million in 2022. Seniors reportedly remain by far the most victimized group overall, losing $3.1 billion in 2022, but the spike in young victims speaks to the growing tactics from scammers.

“We ask parents to be vigilant and be active in their kid’s lives,” said Breanne McClellan, Co-Founder of Social Catfish.

McClellan and her “reverse search” tech company have analyzed data from the FBI, IC3, and FTC this year to see which scams are victimizing teens the most. See their findings below, along with helpful tips on what to do. 

Social Media Influencer Scam 

How it works: Teens idolize their favorite influencers. Scammers will create fake accounts that look just like the actual influencer’s 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.

Romance Scams

How it works: 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.

Sextortion Scams

How it works: Teens use smart phones 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.

Online Gaming In-App Purchases

How it works: 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.

Online Shopping

How it works: 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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National Cyber Security