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New Study: As Kids Return to School, Record $210 Million Lost to Online Scams | 3 Scams Parents Need to Know About

September 2023 by

As kids return to school, a new study found America’s youth lost a record $210 million to online scams last year, up 2,500% since 2017 – the largest increase of any age group.
Many adults were taught about “stranger danger” as kids and told never to get into a random van. In today’s technological world, online predators have even easier access to our children. Scams that prey on young people’s insecurity and naiveté can lead to financial losses, physical harm and suicide.

Social Catfish – a reverse search technology company – released a study on the State of Internet Scams 2023 using 2023 data from the FBI IC3 and FTC.
“The rate at which young people are being scammed is alarming,” said Social Catfish Co-Founder David McClellan. “As a father of two, I am passionate about keeping kids safe online and it is incumbent on parents to spend more time discussing online safety with their children.”

3 Online Scams Parents Need to Know About:

1. Online Games and In-App Purchases Scam: Many online games and mobile apps offer in-game purchases. A child may not fully understand spending real money in a virtual world. With one click, they can make substantial unauthorized purchases and be tricked into sharing their parents’ credit card information.

How to Avoid: Parents should enable parental controls to stop in-app purchases without their approval.

2. Romance Scams and Sextortion: Online predators target lonely teens on social media and begin ‘love bombing’ them. Teens with low self-esteem are more susceptible to falling in love. Scammers will ask for money or personal information to commit identity theft. They may ask to meet in real life which could lead to physical assault or may engage in ‘sextortion’ by requesting a sexy selfie and then threatening to release the photo if a ransom is not paid.

How to Avoid: Perform a reverse image search to confirm the real identity of the person. Never send money or photos to anyone you do not know.

3. Social Media Influencer Contests: Fake athlete or celebrity Instagram accounts are messaging kids letting them know they won a contest for free merchandise or tickets. Kids are asked to click a link to receive the prize. These are phishing links which gives the scammer all the personal information and login credentials they need to commit identity theft.

How to Avoid: Fake social media accounts have very few followers. Never click on random links or send money or personal information to a celebrity online.

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