CHARLOTTE – Employment scams were the riskiest scams in 2018, according to the latest report from the Better Business Bureau, “Tech-Savvy Scammers Work to Con More Victims: 2018 BBB Scam Tracker Risk Report”
The report is based on data supplied by consumers to BBB Scam Tracker and is based on the BBB Risk Index, an algorithm that calculates exposure, susceptibility and monetary loss to offer a more accurate assessment of scam risk.
“It’s the first time since we began this report three years ago that one scam dominated across so many demographic subgroups,” said Tom Bartholomy, president of the BBB.
Digging into the Risk Report shows one possible answer: Amazon was in the news a lot in 2018 with its high-profile search for a second headquarters. It was also the sixth most impersonated organization mentioned in BBB Scam Tracker reports, after not even making the top 15 in previous years. In 2017, only 24 BBB Scam Tracker reports were employment scams that mentioned Amazon. In 2018, that jumped to 564.
“Scammers are opportunists,” Bartholomy said. “Whatever is in the news or being talked about on social media, they see as an opening to imposter a recognizable and respected organization or brand.”
The Internal Revenue Service is the leading impersonated organization, and other government agencies together rank second.
Scammers also impersonate Publishers Clearing House, Microsoft, Apple and the Better Business Bureau.
Amazon, a BBB Accredited Business, has only one authorized job application site: amazon.jobs. Any other link is a scam, Bartholomy said.
“Employment scams are particularly egregious because they prey on people who are already feeling pinched and may be desperate for work,” he said. “If the scam gets far enough, scammers collect the same information that real employers do – address, birth date, Social Security number, bank account – everything needed for identity theft.”
The 10 riskiest national scams of 2018 were: employment, online purchase, fake checks/money orders, home improvement, advance fee loans, romance, tech support, investment, travel/vacation and government grant.