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Scammers continue to target Nebraska online shoppers

Online Scams
Online Scams(KSNB)
Published: Dec. 2, 2021 at 2:50 PM CST
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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - With holiday shopping ramping up, online scam activity is surging. The festivities only exacerbate a recurring problem that is only getting worse.

The Better Business Bureau of Nebraska, along with partners in Chicago, Dallas, San Francisco and St. Louis, conducted an investigative study into online shopping and the massive amount of theft and fraudulent activity that both businesses and consumers share together.

“We certainly are seeing an uptick in the state of Nebraska with regard to online shopping scams,” said Josh Planos, Director of Public Relations and Communications for the BBB serving Nebraska, South Dakota, Kansas Plains and SW Iowa. “Unfortunately, it’s not just because the holidays are around the corner. We do see that every single year. You can set your clock to scam activity increasing around the holidays, but it’s largely because there is this volume of online consumers that we’ve never had before.”

It revealed that the COVID-19 pandemic, paired with both vulnerabilities within web shopping platforms and the global supply chain crisis have created a ripe picking ground for scammers — many of which hail from foreign countries, especially China per the BBB — to steal from unsuspecting online consumers.

“Scammers are a lot more sophisticated than I think we give them credit for,” Planos said. “These aren’t just people who are walking door to door and knocking and seeing if you’ll give them all of your money. These are people who largely are overseas, who have very sophisticated methods of wedging their way into a growing market.”

The Federal Trade Commission reports that losses to online shoppers have doubled over the past two years and are now on pace to quadruple to over $400 million. Of all monetary losses reported to the BBB Scam Tracker system by consumers, over 60 percent now reportedly involve online shopping fraud, which is over a 50 percent increase in the past five years.

In the last week alone, Planos said there have been six reports of online fraud in Nebraska, which likely indicates a much higher number since he said many cases go unreported due to stigmas surrounding getting scammed.

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