CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - Cape Girardeau area consumers reported losses of more than $5000 during 2017 to the Better Business Bureau's Scam Tracker.
"Even though we live in a smaller community and may believe that scams can't happen here, they do, and we need to be on guard," BBB Cape Girardeau Regional Director Joey Keys said. "These scammers do not discriminate. They're as likely to pick a target in a small, rural community as they are someone in a big city. They simply do not care who they scam. All they want is your money."
The BBB's Scam Tracker statistics showed the most popular scam was phishing. There were 13 phishing attempts in the Cape Girardeau area in 2017.
Phishing is when someone reaches out via email, phone call or text message in an attempt to get personal information or money from their intended victim.
Many of those phishing reports were tied to a "Can you hear me?" scam that circulated in Jan. 2017. Victims received phones of someone asking, "Can you hear me?" by the scammer. The goal was to get the victim to answer "Yes." There were fears that the victims were being recorded and edited to authorize major purchases by the scammer.
The scam ended up being benign as there were no reports of anyone in the Cape Girardeau area losing money in the scheme.
There were 11 debt-collection scam attempts in the area during 2017. A Park Hills resident reported losing $800 in a debt-collection scam.
An advanced fee loan scheme was the most costly scam during 2017. A Jackson resident reported losing $2,000 to this scam. The person reported in Sept. that they researched a 36-month loan online and was asked to pay a $2,000 fee in order to acquire a $3,0000 loan from the company. They sent the money but never received the promised loan.
BBB's Scam Tracker is a free, online tool that offers a heat map showing where scams are being reported. Users can search using a variety of filters to see what scams are happening in their area, or track a particular type of scam, or even see how much money has been lost.
Users can also report scams they hear about, whether or not they have fallen victim to the scam. Scam Tracker is available at bbb.org.
Top five Cape Girardeau-area scams in 2017 (72 total reports):
- 1. Phishing (13 reports)
- 2. Debt Collection (11)
- 3. Tech Support (6)
- 4. Advance Fee Loan (5)
- 5. Online Purchase (5)
Scammers are still at it in 2018: