US military personnel lost over $379 million to scams in the last 5 years
According to Atlas VPN investigation, US military personnel lost $379.6 million to various scams from 2015 through June 30, 2020. Military consumers made more than 680,000 reports about fraud, identity theft, or other consumer issues to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
How FTC handles complaints
The FTC uses these complaints as the starting point for criminal investigations. The FTC does not resolve the accusations themselves, but they send out the data to over 2,500 law enforcers in the US.
The FTC groups the US military personnel into three different categories. The first category encompasses reports from all military personnel, including reservists and even family members. The second group consists of complaints from active-duty personnel only. The third group contains veteran and military retiree reports.
Veterans were behind the lion’s share of the losses. The veterans & military retirees’ monetary damages encompass 57% of all losses, totaling $217.2 million. 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.
Types of scams
Prizes/Sweepstakes/Lottery scams lured out most money out of military personnel, with $51.9 million in damages. A total of 10,822 people reported being a victim of lottery or similar scams. Over 22.4% of people who reported scams did lose money. The median loss stands at $2,800.
The second in line in terms of losses are government impostor scams. The monetary damages to military personnel reach $46.5 million. Government impersonation scam is reported most often, with 112,987 reports since 2015.
Over 4.7% of reports did state that they lost money. Impostor scams’ median loss is at $1,000, which is considerably lower than that of lottery scams.
The third-place goes to scammers impersonating businesses, causing $36.6 million in monetary damages since 2015. Over 31,334 people reported cases of fraud where impostors pretend to be high-profile businesses.
Out of these reports, 15.8% of people experienced financial losses. The median loss in this category is on the lower end of the scale at $775.
Next up is romance scams. Romance scams have been known for quite a while. Nonetheless, these scams lured out $24.5 million from unsuspecting victims. In total, 1,666 people reported being a victim to these scams.
More than half of the reports - 56.2%, claimed that they lost money to these scams. Romance scams stand out as their median loss is a hefty sum of $4,000.
Fraudulent telemarketers stole $19.7 million from military personnel. In total, FTC received 40,946 complaints, with 3.4% reporting monetary losses. The median loss for telemarketing scams stands at $807.
Tech support scams are another type of scam that is widely known, but still profitable for cybercriminals. Tech support fraud lured out $16.6 million from military personnel.
As many as 23,040 people reported support scams with 24.7% of reports suffering monetary losses. The median loss for these scams is near the bottom of the ladder, standing at $450.
Online Shopping scams cost US military personnel $11.3 million. Personnel sent out a total of 13,935 complaints, with 65.6% of them reporting financial damages. The median loss for online shopping scams is the lowest at $166.
There is one type of scam that stands out in terms of median losses: investment seminars and investment advice scams. Consumers reported this scam only 100 times since 2015, but the median loss reaches $20,000. With only 100 complaints, this scam lured out a total of $2.3 million.
The Federal Trade Commission encourages people to share any scams or rip-offs they come across. The US citizens can report scams here: ftc.gov/complaint.