ANJ Investigates

Scams, fraud, rip-offs: Florida is the con capital of the civilized world

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — New numbers from the Federal Bureau of Investigation ranks Florida among the top states where people are being ripped off by growing scams, schemes, and frauds costing families billions every year – brandishing Florida’s reputation as the con capital of the civilized world.

Action News Jax’s Ben Becker has reported on people trying to take your hard-earned cash for nearly a decade. He found people are falling for the same crimes but with different schemes that are growing in sophistication.

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“Scams have been supercharged by technology,” said John Breyault of the National Consumers League. “Technology that allows money to be transferred in an instant and irreversibly has made this a better time than any time in history to be a scammer.”

According to the FBI 2022 Internet Crime Report, Florida ranked second in the United States with 42,792 victims who lost $844 million trailing only California in both categories.

FBI 2022 top five cyber-related crimes:

Phishing 300,497

Personal data breach 58,589

Non-payment/non-delivery scams 51,679

Extortion 39,416

Tech support scams 32,538

INVESTIGATES: Veterans forced to wait for hours in long lines at NAS Jax pharmacy

Red Flags to spot:

1. Unsolicited: The scammers contact you by phone, email, or knock on your front door.

2. Untraceable payments: They want you to pay with a gift card, money order, wire, or Zelle.

3. Urgency: It has to happen now. It’s time-sensitive.

According to AARP, there have been dozens of reports of Keto pill scams, including some victims who have lost more than $1,000. It happened to Harry Zemon in 2021.

“This thing comes across my bank statement at $200, and I’m ready to swallow my teeth. I couldn’t believe it,” Zemon said. He was struggling to lose “pandemic pounds” but instead he lost his money.

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After an ad popped up on his phone that showed what he thought was a free sample bottle of Keto diet pills, Zemon thought it would only cost him postage, so he signed up thinking it was a good deal, and gave them his debit card number.

“In a 100 years, would never pay for something like that,” Zemon said.

Action News Jax first reported in March the Federal Communications Commission is cracking down on spam text messages with new rules for telecom companies. The new rules require phone providers to block text messages from suspicious sources including phone numbers that appear to be “invalid, unallocated, or unused.”

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What to do:

“All too often in our society, we think of people who fall victim to fraud to be partially blamed for themselves. When in reality they’re victims of multi-national crime,” Breyault said.

He also recommends using proper cyber hygiene, which means don’t click on suspicious links and don’t use the same passwords on multiple accounts.

In addition, the Duval County Clerk of Courts offers a property fraud alert system. It helps you monitor your personal or business name and notifies you when a document is recorded in Duval County under that name.

The bottom line: If it seems too good to be true it probably is.

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