Romance or confidence-based scams were the most commonly reported online scams with women by far the largest demographic to be targeted using this method, a new report from the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) has revealed.
The report, which analyzed 269,422 complaints from 2014 found that scammers were using specific types of attacks to target different demographics, with women who fell victim to romance scams alone contributing $71.3 million to the more than $800 million lost in the US last year.
“Criminals [are] increasingly taking advantage of personal data found on social media to start relationships with victims and scam them out of their money,” said IC3 in a statement, adding that it was a new trend in 2014. The other emerging trend, which was not among the five common scams identified by IC3, sees criminals targeting vulnerabilities in virtual currencies.
Meanwhile, men disproportionately fell victim to auto fraud, where they are lured by car listings that are too good to be true.
IC3 said that on average, it received 22,000 complaints a month last year. Other common methods included impersonation e-mails, intimidation/extortion scams, real estate fraud, and business e-mail compromise schemes.
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