COLORADO SPRINGS- Consumers in Southern Colorado lost millions of dollars in 2018 to scams, but you may be surprised at the age group most likely to fall victim to fraud. Impostor scams have become the most popular tactic for fraudsters after your money they pretend to be someone they’re not to gain your trust and ultimately your money. In 2018 people under the age of 30 were fooled and paid scammers more often than any other age group.
College students have become a popular and rewarding target for scammers and fraudsters. In Colorado Springs UCCS Police Chief Marc Pino says he’s seen the impact.
“Students who fall victim to this type of crime it ranges from a couple hundred dollars to thousands of dollars,” Said Pino.
The Federal Trade Commission tracks scams. Last year 43% of people under the age of 30 fell victim to fraud. Compare that to the 70-plus age group where we discovered only 15% of the elder population lost money in scams. Students tell me they know scammers are lurking.
“I’ve had like emails from scammers that want me to come get a job at the address they are sending from, but i obviously don’t follow it up,” said Julia, a UCCS sophomore.
“I can see how it can be hard for some people to differentiate oh is this legit? or is it not?,” said Tegan, a UCCS freshman.
The Better Business Bureau of Southern Colorado produces an annual report to alert everyone to the pitfalls of scams.
“For the first time your millennials, so basically age 18 to 34 they are now the most scammed group versus your older baby boomer generation,” said Paul Myers-Bennett Of the Better Business Bureau of Southern Colorado.
BBB consumer protection experts say in 2018 employment scams were the most popular strategy for fraudsters to steal money from young people.
“People wanting a lifestyle where they can work from home, maybe they want more flexibility,” said Myers-Bennett.
Employment scams trick people into believing they are hired, then the fraudsters send a big check and ask the victim to send back money for supplies, or other equipment they’ll need for the job only to find out the check will bounce. The money the victim sent goes into the pockets of the fraudsters. It’s gone and so are the scammers.
“Just the sophistication of the technology that these people are using makes it difficult for law enforcement to keep up,” said Pino.
The FTC’s annual report shows how scam and fraud complains have exploded during the span of two decades. In 2001 the FTC received more than 325,000 complaints. In 2010 that number eclipsed 1.4 million and in 2018 nearly 3 million scam and fraud complaints made their way to the FTC.
Last year alone, victims reported losing a combined 78 million dollars after scammers tricked them into paying with gift cards.
“Major red flag. if an employer wants you to send personal confidential information before you actually have a job and you are employed with them, red flag. if they want you to buy a pre-paid gift card for a reason of any sort. bad idea,” said Myers-Bennett.
Colorado is currently ranked the 12th worst state in the nation for fraud with more than 37,000 cases and more than 23 million dollars lost in 2018. College students say it’s alarming to know they are now a prime target for scammers.
“It is a little bit of a wake up call just knowing it isn’t the older generations because they aren’t as tech savvy as us,” said Julia.
Your help is needed to stop these scammers. If you are contacted by a fraudster, or have fallen victim to a scam you can report it to the FTC here: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/media/video-0054-how-file-complaint
You are also encouraged to file a report with the BBB as a part of its Scam Tracker: https://www.bbb.org/scamtracker/us/