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Experts Hope to Stall Record Growth in Scams


Wednesday, November 16, 2022   

Law enforcement and consumer advocates hope 2022 doesn't end with another record year of financial losses from scams.

As part of the fight against impostors, North Dakotans are being given a chance to learn about prevention. The Federal Trade Commission said last year, people lost a record $5.8 billion to a range of schemes, a 70% increase over the previous year.

Paul Greenwood, retired Deputy District Attorney from San Diego, Calif., and an AARP ambassador, said in the digital age, scammers are becoming more sophisticated, and they're getting help.

"You add in what we call 'money mules,' where there's a third party that is being used to conduit the money," Greenwood explained. "The scammers enjoy so much anonymity, and it's sometimes difficult for law enforcement to actually trace where the money has ended up."

Greenwood pointed out all age groups are vulnerable, but the romance scam has taken hold among older Americans, in which the criminal uses a fake online identity to gain a person's affection and trust and winds up stealing their money.

Experts say a red flag is when scammers usually only share a photo, and do not agree to video chats. Greenwood will share other tips during a telephone town hall, hosted by AARP North Dakota, on Nov. 21 at 9:30 a.m.

Aside from the efforts of scammers, Greenwood attributed the major spike in scam losses to several factors from the past couple of years.

"The number of cases of fraud is increasing rapidly, primarily because of the pandemic, isolation and the access to the internet for so many older adults," Greenwood noted.

As more people are targeted, he added it is important for the public to not shame victims, so they can feel emboldened to speak up. On a broader scale, he suggested law enforcement needs to be more proactive in breaking up crime rings behind common scams around the world.

Disclosure: AARP North Dakota contributes to our fund for reporting on Civic Engagement, Community Issues and Volunteering, Health Issues, and Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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