The most recent AtlasVPN research delves into fraud targeting US military personnel between 2015 and June 2020.
In the past five years, active and former military staff have filed more than 680,000 complaints with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), reporting over $379.6 million in losses.
While most of the complaints involve identity theft and fraud, cybercriminals did not limit their targets to active military personnel, often stationed overseas. “Veterans were behind the lion’s share of the losses,” the report said. This group filed 61% of the complaints (417,560), accounting for over $217 million in losses.
“The veterans & military retirees’ monetary damages encompass 57% of all losses, totaling $217.2 million,” the researchers added. “Veterans and retirees sent out 417,560 complaints. In other words, 61% of complaints in the last 5 years have been sent by veterans and military retirees.”
It seems that Prizes/Sweepstakes/Lottery scams ensnared military personnel the most, with $51.9 million in reported damages. Interestingly, only 22.4% of victims who reported these scams also reported monetary loss.
Government impostors claimed $46.5 million in monetary losses, with more than 100,000 complaints since 2015. Scammers impersonating businesses were also successful, managing to steal $36.6 million from military personnel.
The forth most profitable swindle concerns romance scams. Fraudsters lured $24.5 million from unsuspecting victims with a median loss of $4,000. Surprisingly though, the losses come from an analysis of just 1,666 reports filed by victims.
Online shopping and tech support scams were also mentioned, inflicting $27.9 million in financial damage. Unlike romance scams, the median loss for online shopping is $166, and $450 for tech support scam victims.
It’s clear that swindlers and scam artists are here to stay. Some recycle old materials, while others try to leverage current economic and political conditions. No matter what trick they pull, internet users need to spread awareness and follow basic cyber hygiene.
In fact, most of these scams can easily be avoided by using common sense. You can’t win the lottery without buying a ticket, and government officials will not call you up to ask for financial or personal information.