Online Fraudsters Take Over The US

( – Ken Westbrook is a retired government worker who relayed the story of his 86-year-old mother being exploited by scammers who convinced her to send cashier’s checks depleting her life savings by suggesting her money was at risk in phone calls from overseas. They conned her into sending off huge sums of money and it wasn’t until a banker had stopped to inquire about it and suggested she talk it over with her family before continuing to send checks that Westbrook heard about it.

By that time the scammers had already taken receipt of most of his mother’s life savings. His mother is one of millions of Americans who have been scammed or conned by fraudsters.

Data published by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) indicates that there were at least $9 billion in losses due to fraud in 2022 alone. The amount has quintupled (5x) in just three years. All age groups are impacted, with young people being the most frequent victims while elderly folks tend to suffer much more severe losses.

The problem is further complicated by underreporting, the Department of Justice suggests only 15% of frauds are reported suggesting the actual value of dollars lost to scams could range between $20 and $137 billion.

Technology experts, prosecutors, and consumer advocates are warning that the U.S. is failing to protect consumers and falling behind other countries’ efforts. Some have warned that upcoming regulatory changes may make it easier for them to get away with crime.

AARP Fraud Prevention Director Kathy Stokes said the U.S. lacks a whole-body approach to fraud with responsibility diffused between multiple agencies. While the FTC can bring civil actions to battle scammers the Justice Department investigates and prosecutes criminal activity like money laundering or financial fraud. The FCC is responsible for scams that use internet or telephone lines and several agencies oversee banking.

Critics argue the agencies don’t collaborate on fraud like they do drug trafficking. DOJ representatives countered that officials are “in constant communication” across multiple agencies whenever it is relevant to shut down international fraud. The FTC refused to comment.

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