FBI Atlanta Warns Georgians of Last Minute Holiday Scams
ATLANTA—“Pig Butchering” and other scams could ruin your Holiday Season!
FBI Atlanta is offering several tips to help consumers avoid becoming a victim this season.
FBI Supervisory Special Agent Aaron Seres says criminals are at their most active during the holidays. He says thieves are getting better at disguising themselves as honest sellers, especially online.
The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) receives about 2,500 complaints a day about online scams, and that’s no different during this time of year.
SSA Seres says one of the biggest scams this holiday season is charity scams. He suggests people wanting to donate should look for traditional, legitimate websites.
Victims of any type of scam should contact their local bank to try and get their money back, but also call the local police to file a report, then file with the FBI at www.IC3.gov.
The FBI anticipates a higher loss with romance and investment scams this year, primarily due to a rise in a scam known as “Pig Butchering.” The name comes from a time-tested, heavily scripted, and contact-intensive process to fatten up the prey before slaughter. That’s basically what criminals are doing as they con victims into thinking they are in a trusted online relationship. The thief then convinces the victim to send money or invest in high-yield cryptocurrency accounts. The scammer then vanishes with the money.
FBI Supervisory Special Agent Chad Hunt says crooks are not only targeting online methods, but texting and social apps as well. SSA Hunt says gift cards are a favorite target since they are very hard to trace.
SSA Hunt warns last minute shoppers to be wary of any prices that seem too good to be true. Thieves take advantage of this by either offering to buy last minute product but never pay or sell hot items at extremely low prices then never deliver the intended gifts.
The FBI’s IC3 received more than 44,220 complaints for non-payment/non-delivery scams with losses over $276 million from January 2022 through October 2022.
Tips to Avoid Being Victimized
- Do your homework on the retailer/website/person to ensure legitimacy.
- Conduct a business inquiry of the online retailer on the Better Business Bureau’s website (www.bbb.org).
- Be wary of online retailers offering goods at significantly discounted prices.
- Check each website’s URL to make sure it’s legitimate and secure. A site you’re buying from should have “https” in the web address. If it doesn’t, don’t enter your information on that site.
- Beware of purchases or services that require payment with a gift card.
- Beware of providing credit card information when requested through unsolicited e-mails.
- Do not click on links contained within an unsolicited e-mail or respond to them.
- Check credit card statements routinely.
- Verify requests for personal information from any business or financial institution by contacting them using the main contact information on their official website.
- Secure credit card accounts, even rewards accounts, with strong passphrases. Change passwords and check accounts routinely.
What to Do if You Are a Victim
If you are a victim of an online scam, the FBI recommends taking the following actions:
- Contact your financial institution immediately upon discovering any fraudulent or suspicious activity and direct them to stop or reverse the transactions.
- Ask your financial institution to contact the corresponding financial institution where the fraudulent or suspicious transfer was sent.
- Report the activity to the Internet Crime Complaint Center at IC3.gov, regardless of dollar loss. Provide all relevant information in the complaint.