Thursday, October 6, 2022

Smart Safety: Teens Falling for Scams Faster Than Grandparents


With Minnesota teens back in school, parents and teachers should talk to them about online safety after a new study found tech-savvy teens are falling for online scams at a higher rate than seniors.

The money lost by victims under 20 years old grew by 1125% over the last five years compared to 390% for seniors. Teens lost just $8.2 million in 2017 compared to $101.4 million last year.

Seniors remain by far the most victimized group overall losing $1.68 billion last year but the surge of Gen Z victims is alarming and speaks to the growing sophistication of scammers. released a study on the State of Internet Scams 2022 using 2022 data from the FBI IC3 and FTC.

Minnesota is the No. 20 most-scammed state in the nation with 5,844 victims losing $83,712,410 in 2021. 

Nationally, a record $6.9 billion was lost to online scams in 2021, up nearly double from $3.5 billion in 2019 prior to the pandemic.  

4 Common Scams Targeting Teens and How to Avoid Them in 2022:

1)      ‘Sextortion’: The FBI announced a dramatic increase in ‘Sextortion’ plots against teenage boys. Scammers pose as attractive females on social media, send nude photos, and ask for the same in return. Once received, the victim is told if he does not send money, the photo will be sent to all his friends and family and posted online.

How to Avoid: Perform a reverse image search to confirm if the person you are chatting with online is who they say they are.

2)      Student Loan Forgiveness: Since the government announced up to $20,000 in student loans can be forgiven, fake websites with imposter Department of Education logos are tricking people into providing their bank and personal information in hopes of having their debt forgiven.

How to Avoid:  Only use the Department of Education's official financial site

3)      Online Gaming: Players use credit cards to make in-game purchases that will help them win. Scammers pose as fake vendors and send phishing links during the in-game chat to make these purchases. If clicked, the criminal will have access to all your information.   

How to Avoid: Do not click on links in your direct messages (DM’s). Even if the link is from a friend, call them to verbally verify.

4)      Talent Scout:  Users on Instagram and TikTok receive DM’s offering modeling and acting opportunities. They ask for a fee to apply but of course there is no job waiting. They will request personal information during the “application process” and use it to commit identity theft.

How to Avoid: Be wary of DM’s offering fame and fortune. Do research on the company first.

If you are the victim of a scam or attempted scam report it to the FTC, IC3FBI and

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