Mar 26, 2024 - News

We're getting scammed

Illustration of a computer wearing a bandit's mask.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Texans lost over $1 billion to internet scams last year, ranking second behind California in cases reported to the FBI and tracking with population size.

The big picture: Americans lost over $12.5 billion to cybercriminals in 2023, according to new FBI data.

  • Investment fraud was the costliest cybercrime reported nationally, jumping 28% since 2022.
  • Americans also had roughly $1.3 billion in 2023 taken by scammers pretending to be from the government or tech support, the FBI says.

How it works: Scammers pretend to be a government official, tech support agent or customer service representative to trick people into sending money or other sensitive information.

  • The impersonators typically call with fake stories that motivate someone to share their private identifiable details.

Zoom in: The FBI received 47,305 complaints from Texans last year.

  • Last month, the U.S. Marshals Service and FBI alerted San Antonians of spoofers using government phone numbers to collect fines.
  • Some individuals were contacted by people claiming to be a U.S. marshal for the Western District, under Susan Pamerleau — a familiar name for many San Antonians.
  • Scams can be reported to the Federal Trade Commission.

The intrigue: Fake job offers are among the most prolific and fastest-growing scams in the U.S., with some scammers reaching out to people about freelance opportunities over texts.

Reality check: People of all ages are susceptible to scams — not just the elderly. Only 40% of those who fell for tech support scams were reported by the FBI to be over age 60.

The bottom line: Many victims won't call the police after a scam or cyberattack because of either shame over falling for the ruse or fear of retaliation, but the FBI encourages reporting.

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