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Reports of phishing scams doubled in 2023, BBB says

Ansley Franco, St. Louis Post-Dispatch on

Published in Business News

Reports of online scams doubled in 2023 as artificial intelligence and text-based scams gain popularity among hackers, a new report from the Better Business Bureau says.

More than 9,000 people nationally reported phishing scams — online targeted attempts to steal a person's money or identification by asking for personal information — and reported it to the BBB, according to the report.

These scams can be conducted through email, texts, malicious software, calls and voicemail.

"It's harder to detect now because of the online tools available to these people, like AI," said Brian Edwards, the BBB author of the phishing scam study.

AI allows for scammers to craft grammatically accurate and convincing text messages, something non-English speakers were unable to do before — and phishing scammers target everyone, Edwards said. Recently, "it's a cast-a-wider-net type of game," he said.

For Mexico, Missouri, resident Stacy Keys, a phishing scam conned him out of $800.

Three months ago, Keys rented a car for the one-way drive to visit family in Conway, Texas. Later, in a rush to rent a car for the drive back home, he searched local car rental businesses and found the website for what Keys thought was Hertz, a national company.

 

After speaking with a representative on the phone, Keys was instructed to purchase two Go2bank cards totaling $800. He was told the rental car would be delivered to him in one hour, he said.

"I got a funny feeling, so I stopped by Hertz and told them my confirmation number," Key said. "They said it was fake because they don't deliver any car, and I got scammed."

Months later, Keys has been unable to recoup the money he lost.

Edwards, of the BBB, said the median loss for a phishing scam victim last year was a little over $300.

According to an FBI report, scammers stole more than $3.4 billion from Americans over 60 last year.


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