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Media > Newsletters > Consumer Advocate > December 2023 > Scam trends: Older vs. younger victims

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Scam trends: Older vs. younger victims

Although much attention is given to scams targeting older adults, recent statistics show that people of all ages are susceptible to certain types of scams. Surprisingly, some statistics show that younger populations are more likely to report scams even though older adults often experience higher financial losses.

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), adults ages 18 to 59 are more likely to report losing money to scams, with online-shopping fraud, cryptocurrency investment scams and job scams being the most common. In 2021, the median loss for such scams was $500.

Contrastingly, older adults (those 70 and older) were less likely to report fraud but tended to incur larger financial losses than younger victims. Older adults were more likely to fall pretty to tech-support scams and prize, lottery or sweepstakes scams, with a median loss of $800  for those ages 70-79 and $1,500 for those 80 and older.

Those under age 20 aren’t immune from scammers, either, with data showing they are mainly targeted by scams involving peer-to-peer money transfers and online gaming.
Scam artists contact potential victims in many ways, including by email, phone call, text and social-media post.

Here’s more information about some of the most common scams:

Online-shopping fraud: Such fraud typically involves a fake website selling items for an unusually low
price. Shoppers might receive an email with a link to the fake site or click on an online advertisement that leads to the fake site. When the shopper attempts to buy items from the site, their money is collected but they won’t receive the product. The shopper’s credit-card information may also be compromised.

False cryptocurrency investment scams: An investment scam typically promises large returns with little investment. A popular version of the cryptocurrency investment scam includes false posts online that are promoted by celebrities and social-media influencers. The “celebrities/influencers” say they can multiply any amount of cryptocurrency you send them. If you send the cryptocurrency by clicking a link or through a QR code, the money goes directly to the scammers and will not be invested on your behalf.

Job scams: You may receive an email about or see a posting for a fake job. After you apply for the job and potentially give the “employer” your personal information, the scammers contact you with several next steps, including purchasing expensive software and materials for the job.

Typically, the scammers send you a check to supposedly cover the costs of the equipment and supplies. They persuade you to deposit the check into your bank account and then use a money-transfer service, gift card, or prepaid money card to send the same amount to a “vendor.” After you send your real money to the “vendor,” the check comes back from the bank as counterfeit and the bank retrieves the bogus funds from your account, plus often a bad-check fee and/or overdraft fees.

Be sure to research the company touted in any job posting before applying. If a job’s pay rate doesn’t seem to align with the skills necessary to do the job, it might be a scam. 
Tech-support scams: A “computer company” – either by calling you or sending a pop-up message – claims that your computer has a virus. The scammer offers to fix the problem, then asks for access to your computer. Such access allows the scammer to install malicious software designed to scan your computer for personal information or to lock your computer, making it unusable until you pay a “ransom” to unlock it. Never allow remote access to your computer, and don’t download or click on unfamiliar programs or files.
Prize, lottery or sweepstakes scams: With these scams, someone might falsely claim that you’ve won a lottery, prize or contest you didn’t enter. To collect your “winnings,” you are asked to pay a fee. Often, you are instructed to send money via wire transfer or money order, possibly to a foreign country. The scammer tells you to expect your winnings once you pay, but the prize never arrives. Be cautious of social-media “friends” or sweepstakes; such messages probably aren’t from your friends.

Money transfer scams using peer-to-peer apps: Does your child or teen have a money-transfer app, such as Venmo or Cash App, on his/her phone? Scammers send users money, then text to claim the money was sent in error and ask the recipient to send it back. Only after sending the money does your child find out that the original payment didn't go through.

Online-gaming scams: As children make friends with other players online, they can be persuaded to share personal information, such as name, address and account password. Promises of free in-game currency, “skins” or other desirable gaming extras can persuade children to share payment information or click on links that lead to malware or spyware downloads.

Consumers who need help resolving a complaint against a business, or who suspect a scam or an unfair business practice, should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at or 800-282-0515.