The FBI reported on Wednesday that Montanans lost nearly $380,000 to online scammers in 2020.
According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center’s (IC3) 2020 report, non-payment or non-delivery scams cost people more than $264 million. Credit card fraud accounted for another $129 million in losses nationwide.
Special Agent Casey Harrington from the Salt Lake City office of the FBI explains how the scammers work.
“So it’s a big time of year for shoppers and it’s a big time of year for retailers, so it’s also a big time of year for scammers,” said Special Agent Harrington. “They want to seize on this online demand for toys and other products to try to trick people into giving up their personal information, their credit card information and their login information so that they can financially profit from it.”
Harrington said the numbers reported to the FBI are actually a fraction of the actual losses experienced by consumers in the U.S.
“It’s millions of dollars, and that’s probably just a fraction of what actually happens,” he said. “A lot of stuff doesn’t get reported or may not be reported through IC3 may go to local police departments, so there’s a lot of it we probably don’t even know about, however it’s easily into the tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars.”
Harrington says everyone remembers the ‘Nigerian Prince’ email scandals from years ago, but they are amateurs compared today’s online pirates.
“The criminals are getting better and…