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MATT GEPHARDT

New federal data shows favorite methods of scammers targeting Utahns

Jun 20, 2024, 10:09 PM | Updated: 10:35 pm

SALT LAKE CITY – Over 26,200 Utahns reported getting hit by fraud to the Federal Trade Commission last year. And one out of five of those Utahns lost money to imposters – the top category of fraud targeting the state.

It turns out that Best Buy and its tech team, Geek Squad, is the most impersonated business in the country, according to FTC data. Amazon ranked second, while PayPal ranked third.

And while those are the most impersonated businesses, the bad guys posing as Microsoft reps are raking in the most money. The Microsoft imposters stole $60 million in 2023, largely through the tech support scam where they call you up pretending to be tech support to gain remote access to your computer.

Zelle, PayPal, and Cash App appear to be scammers’ preferred payment apps. Victims are directed to use those three more than any other app. In total, thieves took $210 million via payment apps last year.

Thieves fraudulently billing Medicare for catheters on behalf of Utahns

Still, untraceable gift cards remain a huge moneymaker for criminals as they hauled in $217 million last year by getting victims to send money via gift card. Apple Gift Cards were the most requested, with 30% of victims reporting buying those.

Target and eBay rounded out the top three, with Target being 14% and eBay at 9%.

Nationally, over $1.2 billion were lost on scams that started on social media last year – the most of any contact method. But the bad guys haven’t forgotten the old-school ways of communication. Far more victims are still initially contacted by phone or email.

How do you protect yourself?

Don’t pay someone you don’t know by gift card, payment app or cryptocurrency. Don’t trust caller ID or links in emails or texts. And stop and think critically about any deal, plea for help or threat of legal action you’re being rushed into out-of-the-blue.

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New federal data shows favorite methods of scammers targeting Utahns