Georgia ranks #1 for identity theft

$1.48 Billion reported lost due to scams in 2018

The identity theft results for 2018 are in and many of you are not going to like them– specifically those of you in the Peach State. 

The Federal Trade Commission’s recently released report shows Georgia ranks #1 for the amount of identity theft reports in 2018. South Carolina is #11. 

NewsChannel 6’s Ashley Osborne talked to a GBI cyber investigator who says criminals are getting better at their scams. 

“It’s a huge, huge industry,” says GBI Digital Forensic Investigator Manager, Beth Messick.

Messick says the number of cyber criminals has decreased, but the money stolen, has increased. 

“There are probably less people committing the crimes,” Messick says. “But the amount of money that they’re actually profiting from is increasing so that just tells us they’re getting better and better at their scams.”

The FTC’s report shows Georgia at the top of the list for idenity theft in 2018 with 229 reports per every 100k people. South carolina reported 126 incidents per every 100k people. 

Augusta did better than most of the metro areas in the state with 104 identity theft reports per 100k people. Macon had more than 3 times that many. 

“I’s very common that you may not look closely at a website, you hit a link and it went out to a website you weren’t expecting or you get an email from someone who you think is legitimate,” Messick explains. “They could have sent that out to 1000 people and if they had 100 that clicked on that link, that’s very profitable for them.”

The most profitable type of fraud– imposter scams. The FTC says romance scams, specifically, rank number one for the amount of money stolen. 

“They’ll play on their emotions– I have a sick child, please send me $1,000 dollars,” Messick describes. “There’s a whole lot of ways that they manipulate based off of emotions. 

People reported losing a total of $143 million in 2018 to romance scams. The median reported loss was $2,600, which is about 7 times higher than other frauds and since 2015 the number has continued to rise. 

“They’re very very good at what they do,” Messick points out. 

People reported losing $1.48 Billion in 2018, which is a 38% increase from 2017. 

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