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The Internet has enabled con artists to deceive more people than ever before. published these statistics related to internet scams and fraud:

1. From 2005 to 2009, internet scam complaints rose from 100,000 per year to nearly 300,000 per year.
2. The monetary loss of scam complaints easily exceeds $300 million per year.
3. Top 5 internet scams with the most complaints:
  • 4.4% – Identity theft
  • 13.2% – FBI-related scams
  • 9.8% – Miscellaneous fraud
  • 9.1% – Advance fee fraud
  • 8.6% – Spam

4. Men report 25% higher monetary losses related to internet spam than women.
5. In 2010, individuals in the 60 years or older group reported higher amounts of monetary loss from internet scams than any other group.
6. The 3 most commons locations for internet scams to originate are:

  • 65.9% – United States
  • 10.4% – United Kingdom
  • 3.1% – China
Craigslist is a great resource for finding a purchase and a great place to get scammed.  Here’s some advice from them to avoid fraud:
  • Meet the seller in person and inspect the goods personally if at all possible. In the event that you’re unable to inspect the item yourself, be sure to request an inspection from a third party expert.
  • Never use Western Union or Moneygram to send payment prior to receiving the item. Use only traceable money transfer options.
  • If it is too good to be true… is a scam.
  • Never send money out of the country. There are scams that specifically target military personnel and their families that ask for such payments.
  • Always talk to someone via phone and write down the number. Most scams are done only via email and never give out phone numbers.

Because there is no foolproof way to prevent fraud, awareness is the best defense so be sure to use a third party, online escrow service like PaySAFE® when making important  purchases. These types of platforms allow both the buyer and seller to negotiate unique agreement terms for each transaction, and then keep track of all communication during the escrow process. There are also various means of identity verification and document tracking that can be great lines of protection for both parties.

No matter how you choose to complete your next online purchase, be sure to do some legwork to ensure that the other party involved is who they say they are. And, as always, if something seems to good to be true, it probably is.

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