Robocall Scams Get More Sophisticated and Costly
(Yahoo!) – It took two phone calls to rob an 81-year-old woman of her $80,000 life savings.
The first came from a man claiming to be from the Social Security Administration. The woman thought the call was legitimate because her ID screen displayed the agency’s phone number. Plus the man knew her name and had her Social Security information.
The man said there was a problem with her account, and unless she immediately wired him the money to fix it, her benefits would be cut off. She agreed to send him the funds.
Soon after, she got a call from an accomplice claiming to be an FBI officer. He told the woman that the first caller was an imposter and had cheated her. He then convinced her that he needed money to go after the con man. She agreed to wire him funds as well. Now, in the twilight of her life, she has lost everything.
This is just one of thousands of so-called imposter scams reported each year that target people in the U.S., particularly older ones.
While overall robocall fraud complaints have been declining, the Federal Trade Commission, one of the government entities that regulates the telephone industry, says complaints about scams like the one described above are surging. In May of this year alone, the FTC says it received 46,000 impostor scam complaints.
Also on the rise, according to the FTC, is the average amount of money lost by consumers fooled by these scams.
In total, consumers have reported losses of $285.2 million so far this year, with a median loss of $700, according to FTC data. At this point in 2018, consumers had reported losses of $239 million with a median loss of $500.
“While less and less people are getting scammed overall, the few who are are seeing much bigger losses,” says Ian Barlow, the Do Not Call program coordinator at the FTC. “And there are lots of individual consumers who lose everything.”
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