CONSUMER FIRST ALERT: The latest investment scam tactics

Investment fraud is getting increasingly sophisticated
Updated: May. 21, 2023 at 6:00 AM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - A Consumer First Alert to shed light on a disturbing trend in investment scams costing some people their life savings.

Investment fraud is getting increasingly sophisticated.

The Federal Trade Commission says in the last two years, victims report losing more than $5 billion to investment scams.

We talked to the director of fraud prevention at AARP, Kathy Stokes, who says it’s more important than ever to know the latest scam tactics.

“I think the most worrisome trend that I’m seeing are cryptocurrency investment scams,” Stokes said. “Quite often these start off as what starts out as an errant text -- ‘Hi Paula are we meeting for drinks tonight?’ and you’ll say, ‘Well, I’m not Paula. Who is this?’ -- and that is all they need to begin a conversation, to over time they build a trust relationship.

“They say, ‘Hey, I’ve made a ton of money on crypto investing, and I can help you learn how to do it too. Are you game?’ It’s fake crypto exchange, and it’s fake returns, and when the person who believes they just made all this money tries to get that money out, they find out it’s not even there.”

Stokes added, “They’re losing everything, and for many families it’s generational wealth that’s gone.”

Are fraud experts seeing people reporting this, or are people too embarrassed or nervous to reveal what happened?

“They are [nervous to report] because we have this tendency to blame them. It’s your fault you got scammed, you got duped, you fell for it. There’s something you didn’t know or you didn’t do. Or, very uncomfortably for me, it’s, well, this only happens to older people -- you know, cognitive decline and not text savvy. Nothing could be further from the truth. And you get an older adult who loses money to a scam, they’re going to be afraid that their adult kids are going to think there’s something wrong and they can’t take care of their finances anymore, so they’re not reporting.”

Stokes says it’s important to talk to your parents, grandparents, and friends about how these scams work.

Remind them it’s not they’re fault and if they’re a victim to report it to police.

You can check out AARP’s Fraud Watch website to stay up-to-date on scams and find free help.