Scammers are like viruses: They continually evolve in response to the latest news and trends, using them for new ways to separate us from our cash.
These criminals “are so adaptable, they’re going to just follow the headlines,” says Amy Nofziger, director of fraud victim support for AARP.
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As she and other anti-fraud experts note, scammers have proved ingenious when it comes to updating traditional criminal operations such as the romance scam or the Ponzi scheme with new twists to make them more convincing and effective. And like the rest of society, scammers are increasingly going online.
“Most con artists have taken a digital-first approach to scamming,” says Josh Planos, vice president of communications and public relations for the Better Business Bureau (BBB). He notes that the vast majority of today’s scams originate through a digital on-ramp, such as social media or email.
Here are seven emerging scams that anti-fraud experts are tracking in 2023, along with tips on how to thwart the crooks.
1. Cryptocurrency-romance scam
Crooks combine crypto scams with old-fashioned romance scams, posing as internet love interests so they can cajole their targets into downloading an app and investing in fake crypto accounts. “They claim that they’re even putting some of their own money into your fund,” explains former Federal Trade Commission official Steve Baker, who publishes the Baker Fraud Report. While the app displays data that seems to show your wealth growing, criminals are just taking your money.
How to stay safe: Carefully scrutinize any investment opportunity, even if you think you’re a sophisticated investor. “People think it’s not going to happen to them, but it is happening to many, which is why you have to keep your guard up,” Nofziger says.