RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Scammers went above and beyond in 2020 to take advantage of you as the pandemic intensified and in the months ahead, experts say they show no signs of slowing down.
The Better Business Bureau of Eastern North Carolina used its scam tracker to figure the top scams in 2020, which it says cost those of us who live here to lose about $120,000.
However, the BBB says the losses were probably worse than the figures indicate.
“The majority of people don’t report they were victims of scams, so we imagine it’s way more than that.” said the BBB’s Alyssa Parker.
The top scheme: Online purchase scams.
Parker said that kind of fraud tricked 41 percent of the victims who complained. The scams usually involved fake websites.
“It’s something incredibly rampant out there and we don’t see it going away,” she said.
Parker said you can’t trust a website unless it has an “HTTPS” or a lock icon on the URL to show it’s secure.
Employment scams were the number two grift in this area according to the BBB.
“If anyone offers a job where you need to pay for training, that’s a huge red flag,” said Parker.
Phishing scams were the number three problem. They usually involve unsolicited texts or emails on social media asking you to click a link to acknowledge something.
“They’re really after or money or the clicked link will install malware or get personal information,” said Parker.
Counterfeit products scams came in at number four. They are being pushed by criminals who offer great deals on normally expensive items.
“Counterfeit products are often linked to organized crime,” said Parker. “Oftentimes they are coming from sketchy sellers and websites and you may not even get the product you pay for.”
Believe it or not, COVID-19 scams were only the fifth most common local scam reported in our area.
“Anything that says it’s a cure or I can get you in the front of the vaccine line — it’s too good to be true,” she said
Scammers like to use current events for their schemes, preying on your fear. Experts like Parker say that makes the pandemic is fertile ground for criminals.