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FTC: Social media ‘gold mine’ for scams costing American nearly $770 million

Shopping fraud, investment, and romance scams lead the list in social media scams in 2021.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Federal Trade Commission reports scams on social media platforms are up 18% in the last five years. It cost Americans nearly $770 million.

“We've really seen reports about scams that originate on social media skyrocket, said Emma Fletcher, a data researcher at the FTC. “The numbers point to social media as being the most profitable to scammers, in terms of how they're reaching people last year, so I would say the goldmine title fits.”

More than 95,000 people reported scams, making up of about 25% of all reported losses to fraud in 2021, according to the FTC.

“The largest number of reports by far were about online shopping fraud,” said Fletcher. “People place an order based on an ad and then they never get the good. So advertising is a very important piece of this. Of course, with things like investment scams and romance scams, direct messages can be involved, or just the things people post online promoting bogus scams. All of these things are involved all the ways that you might reach your friend on social media, a scammer can reach you in those ways as well.”

Fletcher says there are ways to protect yourself online by checking your privacy settings, opt-out of targeted advertising, watch out for cryptocurrency or investment encouragements.

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