Nigerian Princes Scams Still Raise Over $ 700,000 A Year
Also known as ‘Nigerian letter’ scams or “overseas money exchanges,” these usually begin with an email from someone overseas claiming to be royal. the fraudsters attract you by offering a share of a huge investment opportunity or a fortune that they cannot get out of the country without your help. Then they either ask you for your bank account number so they can transfer the money to you in a safe place, or a small deposit to help cover the costs of transferring the money.
That’s when they take your payment and disappear, or worse, empty your bank account.
Americans lost $ 703,000 last year because of these types of frauds, according to a new report from ADT Security Services, using data from the Better Business Bureau Scam tracker. “As long as these types of scams continue to work, people will continue to use them,” says Anja Solum, ADT project manager. CNBC do it.
Over the past three years, ADT has calculated that Nigerian letter-type scams have cost victims an average of $ 2,133.
The reason these scams are so effective is that they present victims with a “perfect storm of temptation.” Dr Frank McAndrew, a social psychologist and professor at Illinois-based Knox College, told CNBC Make It.
First, these scams play on people’s greed. Many times the scam is set up in such a way that victims are promised that they will make a big financial profit without too much effort, McAndrew says. In most successful scams, scammers also take advantage of your desire to be a hero.
“We have the ability to feel good about ourselves by helping another person in need,” says McAndrew. “After all, what could be nobler than helping an orphan in need or helping a poor soul get back the money that is rightfully theirs in the first place?”
The best way not to fall in love with these is to recognize them for who they are. Experts say these types of emails are usually unexpected and come from an unknown sender. Some email providers may even automatically send them to your spam folder.
If this type of email arrives in your inbox, don’t send money or give out your personal information to strangers, no matter how sad the story or the tantalizing reward.
If you fall for scams like these, McAndrew adds, don’t feel too bad: remember that many other people have made the same mistake. “Scammers are also good at luring us into a relationship before the sting happens, which simultaneously creates a sense of trust, which then leads us to almost feel a sense of obligation to provide them with help when the need arises, ”he says. .
Overall, Americans lost more than $ 26 million to scams last year, according to ADT. While Nigerian prince-style schemes can get expensive if you fall in love with them, investment fraud and romance scams are the most expensive for the victims.
Investment fraud of all types, including Ponzi schemes and pyramid schemes, committed over the past three years have cost victims an average of $ 8,648, according to ADT. Victims of romance patterns, sometimes referred to as “sweetheart scams,” lose an average of $ 6,003.
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Romance scams are similar to overseas money exchange programs, but they usually start on online dating sites rather than email. Scammers create fake dating profiles and pose as users looking for love. They spend time talking and getting to know their victims. Once trust is established, they ask for money and play on the emotions of the victims.
Many times these scams target the elderly.
The most popular type of scam reported by Americans is phishing, which occurs when cybercriminals send you fake emails that attempt to retrieve personal information or infect your device with malware.
These types of scams have increased by 7% over the past three years, with over 20,000 incidents reported in 2018, according to ADT. Yet despite their popularity, the average amount lost in these types of scams was only around $ 44 per victim.
Number of healthcare scams increased in 2018, resulting in losses of $ 290,000 last year. This type of fraud includes programs that charge you for help getting new insurance, Medicare fraud, and bogus medical rebate programs.
Moving scams, where people put down a deposit and movers never show up, were also on the rise in 2018. Moving scams caused more than $ 600,000 in losses in 2018 alone, ADT reports.
While Solum says there is no guarantee that these types of scams will remain popular in 2019, consumers should remain vigilant. “Crooks are constantly looking for opportunities to find vulnerable victims,” says Solum. “The recent changes in Obamacare and healthcare coverage, for example, have led to a constant air of confusion, allowing healthcare scams to flourish.”
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