Surge in Online Scams Targeting Teenagers

Surge in Online Scams Targeting Teenagers
Cover Image Source: Scams targeting teenagers | Pexels | Photo by Stanley Morales

The vulnerability of teenagers to scams has seen a staggering surge, with a recent study by Social Catfish revealing a jaw-dropping 2,500% increase in money lost to scammers over the past five years by individuals aged twenty and younger. According to the study, the year 2022 witnessed victims under the age of twenty losing around $210 million to scams. While seniors remain the most victimized group, losing over $3.1 billion in the same year, the significant spike in young victims signals a concerning trend that demands immediate attention. 

Image Source: Pexels/Keira Burton
Image Source: Pexels | Keira Burton

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That year, online scams cost people $10.3 billion, a significant increase from the previous year's $6.9 billion. The average victim incurred losses of nearly $13,000, as per the study's findings. However, the accuracy of these figures may be compromised, given that out of the 5,500 victims surveyed, 4,455 refrained from coming forward or filing a report due to feelings of shame. Moreover, of the total amount lost, only $433 million, equivalent to 4.2%, was successfully recovered by the FBI. 

Social influencers have become unwitting accomplices in the elaborate schemes devised by scammers. The modus operandi typically involves the creation of fake accounts by fraudsters who then host sham brand-sponsored contests. These contests often promise lucrative prizes, enticing teens to participate. Subsequently, the so-called "winners" are asked to pay a fee or provide their bank account details to claim their prize. To safeguard against such scams, teens must avoid sharing sensitive information.

Romance scams have also witnessed a surge in recent years, preying on the emotional vulnerability of teenagers. Scammers create fake personas, establish online relationships with unsuspecting teens, and manipulate them into sending explicit photos. Scammers then threaten to expose these compromising images unless a ransom is paid. 

Scammers have moved a step ahead and are hitting the emotional side by making fake calls and believable reason|Pexels
Image Source: Scammers | Pexels

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Furthermore, gaming platforms have also become a hunting ground for scammers. The study also warns against clicking on random links, especially when making purchases within a game. Instead, it is recommended to make in-app purchases directly to ensure the transaction's security. This proactive approach can shield individuals from phishing scams.

Besides these threats, there are many other scams targeting teenagers. Online learning scams are on the rise, with scammers being quick to exploit this trend by creating fake online courses and charging unsuspecting teens for access. Parents and guardians should remain vigilant and ensure to sign up with reputable sources only.

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Cover Image Source: Pexels | Photo by Christina Morillo
Image Source: Pexels | Photo by Christina Morillo

To combat the growing menace of scams, comprehensive education, and awareness programs are essential. Parents, educators, and guardians must engage in open conversations with teenagers about the potential risks lurking in the virtual world. Promoting digital literacy, critical thinking, and responsible online behavior can protect teens from falling prey to such schemes. Victims can report the scam to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Report Fraud site, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), and IdentityTheft.gov.

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