More than one out of ten people fell victim to a fraud scheme last year, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Of even greater interest was the fact that weight-loss scams came out number one, over lottery and buyers-club scams.
From the FTC press release on this:
The Federal Trade Commission today released a statistical survey of fraud in the United States that shows that 30.2 million adults â€“ 13.5 percent of the adult population â€“ were victims of fraud during the year studied. More people â€“ an estimated 4.8 million U.S. consumers â€“ were victims of fraudulent weight-loss products than any of the other frauds covered by the survey.
Fraudulent foreign lottery offers and buyers club memberships tied for second place in the survey. Lottery scams occur when consumers are told they have won a foreign lottery that they had not entered. Victims supplied either personal information such as their bank account numbers or paid money to receive their â€œwinnings.â€ In the case of buyers clubs, victims are billed for a â€œmembershipâ€ they had not agreed to buy. An estimated 3.2 million people were victims of these frauds during the period studied.
Here is another set of statistics worth evaluating:
Print advertising â€“ direct mail, including catalogs, newspaper and magazine advertising, and posters and flyers â€“ was used to pitch fraudulent offers in 27 percent of reported incidents. The Internet, including Web sites, auction sites, and e-mail, was used to make 22 percent of the fraudulent pitches. Television or radio accounted for 21 percent of the pitches, and telemarketing accounted for nine percent.
Interestingly enough, at least according to this survey, the Internet is only one venue used to pitch fraudulent schemes. Almost half (48 percent) were pitched by more traditional marketing venues, such as direct mail, newspaper and magazine advertising, television advertising and telemarketing.
Schemes pitched via the Internet only accounted for 21 percent of the reported incidents.
The full release by the FTC, along with consumer tips can be read, here.
The FTC has another page worth reading (I like the fact that it points out certain behaviors that most fraudsters exhibit), here.
Both of these links contain information on where to report fraud, which is highly recommended. The sad truth is that a lot of fraud victims never report being taken advantage of. Admitting that you were taken in by one of these schemes is embarrassing to a lot of people.
Trust me, there are a lot of people out there that fall for something that’s too good to be true. Not reporting a scam probably means another person is probably going to end up being victimized by it.
With all the publications, television and radio shows, and direct mail come-ons out there, the FTC needs help identifying all the fraud that is out there.
I wonder what would happen if laws were passed that required advertising (marketing) mediums to exercise a little due diligence (act with a certain standard of care) before accepting money to plaster some of these fraudulent schemes all over the place?
One thing is for certain, most fraudsters aren’t going to be able to get their customers to promote their goods, or services without paying them to do so!