Top 10 Scams Targeting US Citizens: Stay Safe and Alert

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A recent report by the Federal Trade Commission has indicated that US citizens have lost a whopping $2.7 billion in scams in the last two years. Scamming tactics are countless, and if you don’t fall for one, another undetectable scheme will be out to get you. No subgroup is immune to fraud.

However, those individuals who are socially isolated, experiencing life’s struggles, and the elderly fall prey the most, making scamming the second most concerning crime in America. That said, here are the top scamming tricks to look out for.

Grandparent Calls

Scammers target the elderly with these calls. During the unsolicited call, they impersonate a relative, mostly a grandchild in jeopardy and in need of some money. Thanks to AI technology, scammers can even replicate the voice of a relative by using deepfake. The fraudsters have some tales of woe already made up, captivating enough to make you take out your wallet.

Usually, the request for the money to be made through an untraceable money transfer, such as a gift card or cash app, and for the whole thing to be kept a secret because they are afraid and embarrassed.

Government Impersonation Scam

These are among the most common types of scams in the United States, with the elderly being the prime targets. They are usually done from call centers located in different parts of the globe. The callers impersonate representatives from government bodies such as the IRS or Medicare.

They demand due taxes or other payments, presenting a sense of urgency attached to the claim. The scammers also use threats like foreclosure or business ban, penalties, or even arrest if you do not heed to the demand.

Fake Prescriptions Drugs

It is no secret that prescription drugs in the United States are expensive. Again, seniors being the most recurring customers of the drugs because of their susceptibility to illnesses, especially ones that are barely covered by insurance, become an easy target for scammers. Fraudsters exploit this loophole by presenting a cheaper alternative as a possible and “safe” switch to a generic version of the prescribed medication or selling drugs with a huge discount that is often too good to be true.

Additionally, this fake medicine is usually dangerous and may lead to even more severe health complications. To stay away from counterfeit prescriptions, always buy medication from reputable health facilities.

The Wholesale Gem Scam

This is a common scam for American tourists in other countries. Often, the retailers in the new country claim that the tourists can purchase luxury items wholesale, and later resell them in the States at a profit. In reality, these gems are fake, made from glass and other synthetic materials that are nothing close to the claimed worth.

Bus and taxi drivers offering to take you to places with special offers for souvenirs and hidden gems are to watch out for. Most of them are usually in partnership with the stores to lure naive customers.

Donation Scam

American tourists, especially to third-world countries, are the most targeted by this scam. Individuals and groups pose as representatives of charity organizations needing donations. The scammers employ emotional manipulation to get to your wallet.

They are skilled at playing on emotions, using empathy and distress to get to them. They manipulate you into giving huge sums of money using fabricated situations to cloud judgment. For example, they could request funds to settle a fake medical bill or feed orphaned children.

Lottery Scams

With this type of scam, scammers can collect huge lump sums from victims before they are noticed. Lottery scams involve a call from fraudsters claiming you have won a lottery that, in most cases, you hadn’t even participated in. The sweepstakes, lottery, or fully paid vacation require some money to be activated.

After making the payments, the scammer sends a check to deposit in the bank, which bounces after a few days. By then, the “won” prize no longer shows on your account balance, along with the rest of your money. It is also too late to recover your money, and the scammer has already moved on to their next victim.

The Nigerian Prince

When singles get to a certain age, they start getting lonelier and less picky about whom they get into romantic relationships with. Scammers can use this as an opportunity to set up fake accounts on dating platforms, with their locations often set to a different country. They insist that it is close to impossible to meet in person or make video calls because of the distance between countries or the nature of their work.

They target American citizens and lure them into building an emotional connection. After the grounds are set, the money-thirsty criminals’ requests start coming in. They can ask for medical emergency funds for a sick close relative or travel expenses to visit you.

Blackmail

With this scam, the fraudster blackmails you into paying them by threatening to hang out your dirty laundry, expose a big secret, or distribute your private content. Thorough research and hacking into your private accounts is done prior for information, or it could just be a close person that the victim trusted with sensitive information. Once again, they demand the payments to be done on platforms that are untraceable and irreversible.

Fake Business Opportunities

During the pandemic, many people lost their jobs as businesses closed down. So, they turned to the internet for remote work opportunities, and scammers did too. They create “fake” jobs where people have to pay some amount to secure their position claiming that it is a highly competitive job. Otherwise, a virtual interview is conducted, and personal details are collected. The scammers then steal your identity and use the details to access your bank accounts and credit cards.

Tech Scam

Also known as man-in-middle scams, this is a type of phishing that involves tricking people into a fake website, scanning a fake QR code, or clicking on fake links. After you do, the scammer can see your every move and can steal your personal information and credentials. Using this information, they can either steal directly from you, impersonate you to access more sensitive accounts or steal from another person.

Conclusion

Scams take advantage of naiveness and emotional vulnerability. The top advice would be not to let yourself get scammed, but if it were as easy as that sounds, no one would fall for any scam. Instead, you can protect yourself from these malicious schemes by staying vigilant to perfectly detect when something is off about the person you just met online. Also, learn to trust your gut. Before you make any payment, do some research to make sure that it is going to a legitimate person, and for a valid reason.

Claire S. Allen
Claire S. Allen
Hi there! I'm Claire S. Allen, a vibrant Gemini who's as bold as my favorite color, red. I'm a fan of two cool things: strolling the streets in a red jacket and crafting articles that connect with readers. With my warm and friendly personality, Claire is sure to brighten up your day!
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