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Cyber Scams Taking Financial Toll on Counties Nationwide

Fraud cases and the losses they create — especially those that involve cyber attacks — are a growing problem for law enforcement in Oakland County, Mich., as well as for other counties around the country.

A digital rendering of a laptop with a red padlock on the screen.
(TNS) — Fraud cases and the losses they create — especially those that involve cyber attacks — are a growing problem for law enforcement in Oakland County and around the country.

A report by the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) says the agency received 800,944 complaints in 2022. That's a 5% decrease from the previous year.

"However, the potential total loss has grown from $6.9 billion in 2021 to more than $10.2 billion in 2022," the report said.

"Today's cyber landscape has provided ample opportunities for criminals and adversaries to target U.S. networks, attack our critical infrastructure, hold our money and data for ransom, facilitate large-scale fraud schemes and threaten our national security," the report said.

The losses come from tactics such as: — Business email compromise — Email spoofing — Phone spoofing — Call center fraud — Government impersonation — Hacked social media.

In 2022, Michigan ranked eighth in the nation by number of victims targeted for cyber crimes, the FBI said.


Several recent scams caused significant losses for Troy residents. — Troy police say a resident reported losing $44,000 in a crypto currency scam by someone who contacted him via social media. The victim told officers that someone he didn't know got in touch with him through LinkedIn and WhatsApp and said he could make money with crypto. He made several digital transactions; when he tried to cash out his money, he was told he needed to deposit more to make that happen. That's when he realized it was a scam, police said.

The fraudulent scheme took place from late last December through Jan. 24, police said. — A Troy resident reported losing $100,000 to what police say is a scammer who preyed on her throughout 2023, claiming he could help her consolidate debt and get a new mortgage.

The woman told police she was contacted on Instagram on New Year's Day 2023 by someone offering the services — so she gave him her bank account information and Social Security number.

Over the next 12 months, the purported scammer withdrew a total of $100,000 from the woman's accounts, which she initially thought was for financial services but none of the money went toward loan consolidation or a new mortgage, police said.

The woman told police she and the man never met in person and she doesn't know what he did with the money. — A man told police he sent a $200 Amazon gift card to someone he didn't know but who had threatened to harm him if he didn't pay up for "sexual favors."

The man told police last month that he received multiple text messages from an unknown person claiming he owed the money. The man said he sent the $200 gift card before contacting police. — A gift-related scam was also reported last month by a woman who told police she received a message from someone she didn't know who claimed to be the owner of a company out of state. She was asked to buy gift cards for employees as a surprise for them, so she purchased 34 gift cards totaling $5,000 at an Apple store, police said. She later realized she'd been scammed. — Another Troy resident reported being conned out of $146,057, police said, throughout 2023 and into early 2024. In that case, the woman told police she was contacted on a messaging app by someone she didn't know who convinced her to invest in an unknown business being promoted. The woman set up a digital wallet and made six deposits totaling more than $75,000 which was subsequently withdrawn by the suspect, police said.

She also wire transferred $71,000 to the scammer before contacting authorities on Jan. 4, police said.

"This incident is another reminder to not deposit or transfer money to anybody you don't know. What may seem like a business investment is actually a swindle," said Sgt. Ben Hancock of the Troy Police Department. "Please be cautious when any personal information is being requested; it should strike you as suspicious."

Hancock said police have noticed an uptick recently in fraud and swindle reports.

"Most importantly, people should be aware that the government or other apparent legitimate entities do not accept cryptocurrency, gift cards or money through digital wallets as acceptable forms of payment," he said.

© 2024 Daily Tribune, Royal Oak, Mich. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.