Fraudsters targeting tech-savvy young adults through social media and online scams

Median loss for victims between 18 and 24 years old is $220
Published: Jun. 21, 2023 at 1:27 PM CDT
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(InvestigateTV) — People between the ages 18 and 24 are now reporting a higher median loss to scammers than any other age group, according to the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

David McClellan is CEO and founder of, a company that works to prevent online scams.

McClellan said fraudsters use various schemes to trick teens, one of the more common being the temptation of fame.

“Whether it be a model, a TikTok influencer, Instagram influencer, people are being randomly contacted and saying you’re a perfect fit for this and I want you to be this model,” he explained. “And so, they’re asking for a fee, in order to help these people out. And so, these people are paying a fee, anywhere from $250 to typically $500 to sign up for these modeling agencies or sign up for these agencies and people are taking this money and leaving.”

Another common con is online purchases, which made up over 30% of all scams reported to the BBB in 2022.

“What’s happening is these people 20 years and younger, they’re being told to go buy things through social media,” McClellan said. “And so that TikTok person is saying ‘hey look, go buy this product from this website,’ it’s a great website and they’re being incentivized in the background and this person is going and buying something and they’re either never receiving the product, or their information is being stolen.”

Melanie McGovern with the BBB said this is the first time young adults have reported a higher median dollar loss than any other age group since the BBB began publishing its scam tracker report in 2016.

“They’re used to the internet. They grew up with the internet. They’re not as skeptical as people who are a little bit older. So, they’ll see an ad on social media, they’ll see something that they want, they’ll just go ahead and buy it not realizing that they should probably check and see if the website’s legitimate,” McGovern explained.

McGovern shared several tips on how to avoid online fraud:

  • Look up reviews about the website and Google companies before sending money.
  • Make sure the site is secure by looking for the green lock at the top corner of your browser
  • Be wary of sites that have only been around for a few months

Both McGovern and McClellan said raising awareness about online scams is a top priority.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has additional tips and information on avoiding scams.

You can report suspected fraud to both the BBB Scam Tracker and the CFPB complaint center.