Kirsten Joyce and Stephanie Overton
LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A new study found America’s youth lost a record 210 million dollars to online scams last year. That’s up 2500 percent since 2017. It was the largest increase of any age group.
A reverse search technology company called Social Catfish just released a study on the state of internet scams targeting teens, using data from the FBI and FTC.
With the help of Breanne McClellan, co-founder of Social Catfish, 8 News Now has created a list of the top three online scams targeting teens and how to avoid them.
McClellan said the “Social Media Influencer scam” is one of the most popular.
“What scammers do is create these fake accounts that look just like the actual influencer account,” McClellan explained. “We see this all the time. They host a fake brand-sponsored contest and then ask the winner to pay a small fee or provide their bank account information to win that prize.”
You can avoid this by recognizing that fake social media accounts have very few followers, and you should never send money or bank account information to a celebrity online.
The “Online games and in-app purchases scam” has scammers tricking kids into giving credit card information usually for non-existent rewards. In turn, the victim is unknowingly downloading the malware when they’re purchasing these apps.
The best way to avoid this is to only make purchases directly from a games manufacturer.
As a parent, don’t let your kids make in-game purchases without approval. McClellan, a mother of three, takes it a step further.
“I do my due diligence by going to their computer and just fact checking, just double checking what it is they’re buying,” she explained.
Romance scams and sextortion round out the top three scams. Online predators target lonely teens on social media and begin “love bombing” them. They may ask for a nude selfie and then threaten to release the photo if a ransom isn’t paid. You can avoid this by performing a reverse image search to confirm the real identity of the person.
And, of course, never send money or a nude photo online.