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Would you fall for a scam? Losses from fraud are going up as financial scams become more common.

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Recently, a story about a financial columnist losing $50,000 to a scam took the Internet by storm. Many of the comments have a similar refrain: “I would never fall for this.” But falling for a scam is easier and more common than many imagine, said Nikos Passas, professor of criminology and criminal justice at Northeastern University. Just ask the investors in Theranos or the people harmed in Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. More people are losing money to scams than ever before, according to the Federal Trade Commission, which found that reported consumer losses to scams increased by 30% from 2021 to 2022. People lost about $8.8 billion to fraud in 2022, up from $3.8 billion the year before, and that’s just what was reported. (Many victims don’t report their losses.)

Passas said a lot of this has to do with people being more online, a trend that increased when COVID-19 hit and a lot of aspects of life went virtual. More people were using the Internet than ever before, including people who were not used to living in a digital age. “We’re using the Internet much more frequently,” Passas said. “We have a growing pool of victims. Usually, crooks like to hide in the crowds, and here we have much bigger crowds.”

Read more at Northeastern Global News.

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