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SHERIFF CARMINE MARCENO’S FEBRUARY 2024 FRAUD ALERT: 2023 FRAUD NUMBERS ARE IN.

SHERIFF CARMINE MARCENO’S FEBRUARY 2024 FRAUD ALERT: 2023 FRAUD NUMBERS ARE IN.

The Federal Trade Commission works diligently, throughout the year, to both document consumer fraud incidents, as well as to notify law enforcement of current trends and activities.

The information is stored in a secure database called the “Consumer Sentinel Network” and available to law enforcement agencies only. This information is extremely valuable and we pass on much of what we learn regarding trending practices to our residents.

The 2023 numbers are in and while there has been a decrease in reported incidents from 2022 to 2023 (6.12 million reports in 2022 reduced to 5.39 million reports in 2023), the volume of fraudulent activity remains disturbing.

With the advent of the internet and social media, the numbers have ballooned. For this reason, I constantly remind our residents and guests, here in Lee County, to exercise extreme caution when utilizing the internet, email, cellular text and social media.

Below, please find a list of the most commonly reported fraud categories across the United States and, when encountering these subjects/topics online, please exercise discretion and approach them with skepticism and caution:

1 Identity Theft 1,036,903 reports

2 Imposter Scams   853,935 reports

3 Credit Bureaus, Information Furnishers and Report Users   711,802 reports

4 Online Shopping and Negative Reviews   369,469 reports

5 Banks and Lenders   230,224 reports

6 Auto Related   178,100 reports

7 Prizes, Sweepstakes and Lotteries   157,520 reports

8 Internet Services   125,118 reports

9 Debt Collection   124,450 reports

10 Business and Job Opportunities   110,364 reports

The financial losses that were the result of the reported frauds and scams reached $10,021,305,005…well over ten billion dollars!

While many assume that seniors are the most frequently-targeted individuals, 44% of victims were between the ages of 20 and 29 years of age…seniors ages 70 to 79 represented only 25% of the reports.

While this may partially be true as many seniors fail to report their victimization, I share this to remind our residents that anyone can be victimized if not careful…even “tech-savvy” adults.

Regrettably, one of the most victimized states is Florida.

The week of March 3rd to March 9th is “National Consumer Protection Week.” It is an excellent opportunity for me to share reminders, such as this one, with our community.

There are no easy solutions or foolproof tips to protect you from these criminal activities. Certainly, basic measures such as using strong passwords, keeping devices up to date with the most current updates and guarding your personal information will prove to be helpful, however, intense scrutiny of any and all online opportunities should be performed and, whenever uncertain, reach out for assistance prior to making hasty decisions online.

All fraudulent activity needs to be reported. These incidents should be reported to local law enforcement as well as to the Federal Trade Commission at https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/#/.

Stay alert. Be cautious. Ask for assistance when uncertain.