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Increased web traffic over the holidays leading to increase in scammers

Published: Dec. 2, 2020 at 7:35 PM CST
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - The holiday season is always prime time for Scammers to target those shopping online. However, this year, web traffic is at an all-time high and scammers are taking notice. The Federal Bureau of Investigation told us that they have seen an increase in these kinds of schemes and ripoffs this year.

“The fraudsters know that we’re using the internet a lot more.” said Kevin Smith of the FBI’s Minneapolis Division. “A lot of people are rushed, they’re rushing or distracted, for good reason in 2020. And they’ll take advantage of that if they can.”

The Moorhead Police posted a warning about being cautious while shopping online this year. Captain Deric Swenson told us while these scams are affecting local people, the suspects are usually located much farther away.

“A lot of it’s going to be online. It’s going to be overseas, which is extremely hard to find that suspect and be able to prosecute and actually be able to get that restitution back to that victim.” Swenson said.

Many of these scams are focused around hot gift items for the holiday season, such as the new Xbox or Playstation consoles. A recurring theme in our conversations about these scams is that if the offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.

“All of a sudden there’s a company that’s advertising that they have the ability to be able to purchase that Xbox or whatever else they may be looking for.” Swenson added, “If that deal looks too good to be true, really take the time to look at it.”

Some tips to avoid getting caught up in these scams are to only use reputable sites, check receipts and bank statements regularly, and use a credit card rather than a debit card because Credit Cards offer more protection. If you do give your information to one of those scammers, it is important to act quickly and contact your bank and the authorities.

Smith said to contact the FBI if you have been scammed out of products while shopping online, saying that “You’re providing us details of things that might be a little piece of information that helps us in an investigation or helps us discover a fraudster. Any little piece of information we want so we can connect the dots on things and try to take care of some of these problems.”

He said to report these scams to the Internet Crime Complaints Center at IC3.gov.

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