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Watch For Scams Newsletter. Online Scammers
August 21, 2021

Online Scammers

Watch For Scams is dedicated to helping you avoid becoming a victim of fraud.

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Online Scammers

Online scammers stole a record $4.2 billion from Americans in 2020. As Americans spent more time online amid the COVID-19 pandemic, scammers used techniques called spoofing and catfishing – when threat actors fool a victim into thinking they are someone they're not – to establish credibility and trick people into giving up their sensitive information.

Scammers create a variety of tricks to scam people out of their hard-earned money. They create fake profiles and go onto social media platforms, dating sites and online gaming apps to start conversations with their victims. They use a pre-made script to talk to their victims called the scammer’s playbook.

Scammers, once they gain the trust of their victims, then come up with excuses as to why they might need your money or even other things of value, such as gift cards or cellphones. Victims are often lured by scammers through dating apps.

The apps most frequented by scammers were social media and messaging platforms Facebook, Google Hangouts, Instagram and WhatsApp, followed by dating apps Plenty of Fish,, OurTime, Zoosk and Tinder. Google Hangouts and WhatsApp were the top apps used by scammers because they lure their victims through dating apps and then get "their victims off the app and communicate with them via Google Hangouts to avoid getting reported on the dating app.

Outside of dating apps, scammers will use a technique called phishing, or the act of sending emails and text messages that appear to come from official sources or companies asking victims to share personal information. The emails are often disguised with fake email addresses that are close to authentic email addresses, photos and logos that resemble real companies, and convincing language.

Scammers also target victims by calling them from numbers that are not associated to any specific location and making victims believe they are someone they are not.

Most scammers are from Nigeria, China, India, Romania and Mexico.

If you believe you have been a victim of this type of scam you should promptly report it to the IC3's website at The IC3's complaint database links complaints together to refer them to the appropriate law enforcement agency for case consideration.

Remember - always watch for scams!


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