As internet fraud becomes more sophisticated, police hope education will help people give con artists the brush.

Because some victims are too ashamed to report being defrauded, it’s difficult to calculate losses, but businesses and individuals in Berryville, Frederick County and Winchester lost approximately $680,000 last year, according to their police departments.

Some fraud involved people who knew one another, such as relatives of elderly people defrauding them, or in-person construction fraud, but much involved online scams. And with more people spending time at home due to the coronavirus pandemic, scammers have had more opportunities.

“The pandemic inspired a major shift in how criminals approach fraud,” John Buzzard, lead fraud and security analyst with Javelin Strategy & Research, said in the financial advisory company’s 2021 Identify Fraud Study released on March 23. “Identity fraud reflects the lengths criminals will take to directly target consumers in order to steal their personally identifiable information.”

While not revealing personal financial information over the phone or online is common sense, scammers have a lot more information thanks to the internet. That makes it easier to dupe victims. Scammers sometimes pose online as someone the victim knows, or as business or government employees.

“As many times as I talk…

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