The post-pandemic era is turning out to be a bonanza for scammers.
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), consumers reported losing nearly $8.8 billion to fraud in 2022 — a staggering 30% increase over 2021.
About 2.4 million people submitted fraud reports to the FTC last year, and two of the five most commonly reported scams involved online shopping and investment swindles.
GOBankingRates spoke to a pair of victims who fell prey to those exact kinds of frauds. You might think it can’t happen to you, but so did the victims whose stories you’re about to read.
The Lure of Big Returns Traps a Tech Exec Who Should Have Known Better
As the co-founder and CEO of Notta AI, James Jason is a tech-smart and business-savvy professional — but none of that helped him avoid falling into a fraudster’s trap.
“I was once a victim of a forex trading scam that cost me thousands of dollars,” he said. “It all started when I received a direct message from a smooth-talking forex trader who promised me huge returns on my investment. We had met on Instagram, where he was running a trading company and would invest on behalf of his clients. He was so convincing that I decided to give it a shot and invested a significant amount of money into his trading platform.”
If It Sounds Too Good To Be True …
At first, things seemed to be going well. Jason received regular updates on his profits, which were hefty enough to lull him into complacency.
“I was thrilled with the returns I was seeing,” he said.
Then, when he tried to withdraw those profits, it all came crashing down.
“The trader suddenly became unresponsive and my emails and calls went unanswered,” Jason said. “It was then that I realized that I had been scammed.”
Jason chose not to elaborate on how many thousands he lost, only that it was a “significant” amount of money.
“And to make matters worse, I was unable to recover any of it,” he said. “I felt angry and helpless, and I couldn’t believe that I had fallen for such a scam. I had always been cautious with my money, but this experience taught me to be even more careful.”
A Hard Lesson Learned
Jason lost enough in the fraud that he had to downsize his lifestyle in order to recover.
“I had to cut back on my spending and learn to live with less,” he said. “It was a tough lesson, but it made me realize that I needed to be more careful with my finances. I also learned to research any investment opportunities thoroughly before making any decisions.”
Overall, the experience was a painful one, but it taught him valuable lessons about financial responsibility and the importance of being cautious when it comes to investing.
“I will always remember the pain of losing my hard-earned money,” he said, “but I will also use this experience to help me make better financial decisions in the future.”
A Discount Laptop Was Actually Just Bait
eBay scams are so common that the company’s security center has an entire page dedicated to helping shoppers stay safe and recognize the many clone sites, imposter emails and fake listings designed to steal their money.
Michael Chen, chief product director of Airgram, knows how these frauds play out all too well.
“I was so excited when I found a great deal on eBay for a brand-new laptop for just $700,” he said. “The seller had good reviews and was offering free shipping, so I jumped at the opportunity and used PayPal to complete the transaction.”
However, as the days passed with no package, Chen started to get anxious.
“My laptop still hadn’t arrived, and the seller wasn’t responding to any of my messages,” he said.
A Rare Happy Ending
It didn’t take long for Chen to realize he had fallen prey to a classic eBay fake-seller scam.
“I had lost $700, and I was devastated,” he said. “I felt stupid for falling for such a scam, but I knew I had to take action. I immediately contacted PayPal to report the scam and provide them with evidence of the seller’s fraudulent behavior.”
Chen turned out to be luckier than Jason. PayPal was able to reverse the transaction and get his money back.
“It was a huge relief, but it also made me realize how important it is to be careful when shopping online,” Chen said. “Now, I always make sure to research sellers thoroughly before making any purchases. I also became more aware of the potential risks of shopping on eBay and other online marketplaces. I now make sure to double-check seller ratings and reviews, as well as ensure that the seller has a good track record of shipping products promptly and without issue.”
Although PayPal made him whole, the experience was a tough pill to swallow.
“I am grateful that I was able to recover my money, but I know that not everyone is as lucky,” Chen said. “It’s essential to take precautions and do your research to avoid falling victim to these types of scams.”
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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: We Were Victims of Financial Scams: Here Are Our Stories