WAUKESHA, WI – Being the victim of an internet scam affects more people in Wisconsin each year, with the coronavirus pandemic apparently exacerbating the problem nationwide.
In Wisconsin, 60,244 people were victims of online scams reported in 2020, a 24% increase from the 48,214 reported in 2019, according to Comparitech, a technology research company that analyzed data from the Federal Trade Commission, Better Business Bureau, Finance Crimes Enforcement Network, and Internet Crime Complaint Center.
Wisconsin is part of a national trend that has seen an increase in the number of Americans who have reported online scams, from 3.8 million to 4.77 million from 2019 to 2020 – a 25% increase, according to Comparitech . About 10 victims per 1,000 people in Wisconsin were reported in 2020, up from 8 in 2019, according to Comparitech.
Scam victims in Wisconsin lost $ 77.7 million in 2020, up from $ 4.5 million in 2019, according to Comparitech. The dollars lost in Wisconsin are part of the $ 5.1 billion lost nationally in 2019 and $ 7 billion in 2020.
“Crooks are good at what they do, otherwise they wouldn’t be crooks,” Nichole Thomas, a BBB spokesperson who works in the North Indiana office in Fort Wayne, Indiana, told Patch. . “When they find something that works, they really focus on it.”
What had worked for years – rip off older Americans – has changed a bit as the pandemic brought more non-retirees home for the day, Thomas noted. Children were among the groups with the greatest increase Internet scams amid the pandemic, an increase of 153% from 1,119 to 2,831 nationally, according to Comparitech.
“Students had unlimited access to the Internet, with no teacher monitoring over their shoulders,” Thomas said. “Children are mostly less aware of the scam because they are so young, and more likely to think they won’t be scammed because they grew up in the digital age. But now the scammers are also growing in the digital age. ”
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Seniors, traditionally the age target of scammers, are still being targeted, but “not in a way that increases their vulnerability,” Thomas said, as retirees were often at home with access to a computer before the pandemic. .
Identity theft, online shopping, healthcare and employment or business-related scams are the types of fraud that jumped the most from 2019 to 2020 nationally, Comparitech found.
The pandemic did not change the state in which people most often reported scams. Delaware recorded the highest number of scams per 1,000 people in 2019 and 2020, dropping from 53.96 to 58.41. Virginia was the only state to see a decrease in the number of reported scams and loss of money from 2019 to 2020.
Scam numbers only pass on a portion of who gets scammed online, intelligence agencies including the BBB have long said. In cases where a high dollar amount is involved, victims are particularly reluctant to report the crime, Thomas said.
“They are embarrassed,” she said, estimating that the BBB only receives reports from around 10% of scam victims. “People can get very risky when they lose money.”
The more people report scams, Thomas said, the more likely others will be to avoid the scams.
“It is never a victim’s fault that they have been scammed,” she said. “It’s always the crook’s fault.”