Think Scammers Only Target Seniors? 4 Money Scams Gen Z Needs To Look Out For

B4LLS / Getty Images/iStockphoto

B4LLS / Getty Images/iStockphoto

If you’ve ever been scammed, you might have reflected on it later and realized you ignored red flags or pushed back that sneaking suspicion that something wasn’t quite right.

And if you haven’t fallen victim to a scam, you might think scammers target only seniors and retirees. However, the truth is that digital fraudsters will go after anyone with money to be had. And sometimes, these criminals try to lure Gen Zers into committing fraud themselves.

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Here are four scams Gen Zers should be aware of to avoid becoming hapless victims.

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Why Are Gen Zers Being Targeted by Scammers?

“Over the past 18 months, we’ve seen a concerning uptick in the number of Gen Zers falling prey to employment scams — in particular, jobs promising remote work,” said Christine Durst, co-founder of Rat Race Rebellion and one of the principals of the training firm Staffcentrix. Durst has aided the Federal Trade Commission in its investigation of work-from-home scams and often appears in the media as an expert on the topic.

Durst said it’s important to remember that Gen Z is the first generation to grow up in a world where technology is just part of life. As such, she said they’re less likely to approach electronic information with the same level of skepticism as previous generations, making them likely targets for scammers.

“Additionally, remote work is nothing new to them, so they are less suspicious of remote job offers and, therefore, less likely to investigate those offers as thoroughly as they should,” she explained.

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Remote Job Scams Gen Zers Fall For the Most

Here are two remote job scams that target Gen Zers, according to Durst.

Shipping Scams

Durst said victims are hired to work remotely as package inspectors, logistics specialists and shipping inspectors, and they are responsible for shipping packages, photographing the contents and packing slips, uploading details to a web interface, and reshipping the packages to another destination.

“The scam [is that] the packages contain merchandise that was purchased by someone in Eastern Europe using credit cards stolen from Americans,” Durst explained. “The merchandise will ultimately end up in a container on a cargo ship heading for [the] Eastern EU.”

Durst said the victims not only won’t get paid for the work they did but also will be “where the buck stops” because the fraud will be traced back to the home-based workers.

“Police are showing up with search warrants at these workers’ homes, as that is where all trails lead,” she said.

Equipment Scams

Durst said the equipment scam starts with victims believing they’ve been hired to work remotely for a well-known company.

“The company rep sends a check to the victim for deposit into their personal account, usually via mobile deposit, to expedite the scam,” she explained. “They are then instructed to use that money to pay for the equipment they’ll need to perform their job — from a specific vendor, of course. They are to send money to that vendor using wire transfer, PayPal, Cash App, Venmo or another immediate transfer method.”

Durst said the check is either bad or drawn on an account to which the scammers have access. No matter what, the bank will decline the check and the victim has just sent their own money and is now overdrawn or is in debt to the bank.

For those of you who are wondering how Gen Zers are falling for this scam, Durst has the answers.

“These scammers are now setting up domains that closely approximate the actual corporate sites of big companies,” Durst said.

Also, Durst explained that victims are generally found via resumes they’ve uploaded to big job boards or through their LinkedIn profiles. Scammers contact them using email addresses that can be easily mistaken for email addresses from big, recognizable companies.

“Those emails often include the logo of an imitated company to lend further credibility to the facade,” she said.

Social Media App Scams Gen Zers Should Look Out For

“Social media apps, particularly TikTok and Instagram, have become prime venues not only for scamming younger consumers but actually recruiting them into a life of fraud,” said Kevin Lee, vice president of trust and safety at Sift. “Professional cybercriminals actively promote and sell fraudulent tactics on platforms like TikTok and Instagram, signaling a disturbing shift in the landscape of fraud. Similar to other social media influencers, these ‘fraud influencers’ use their platforms to showcase their success in fraudulent activities to attract and recruit aspiring scammers.”

Lee said that, according to Sift’s just-released first quarter Digital Trust & Safety Index, 33% of Gen Z consumers in the U.S. know someone who has participated, or have personally participated, in payment fraud, compared with only 10% of baby boomers. Also, 34% of Gen Z consumers have seen offers to participate in online fraud, compared with only 9% of baby boomers.

Fraud Influencer Scams

“Typically, fraud influencers have established followings on messaging apps, like Telegram, where they either sell stolen credit card numbers/account credentials or offer ‘fraud-as-a-service,’ where they will offer to steal something on a person’s behalf — say a large food delivery order — for just a fraction of the cost,” Lee explained.

Lee said Gen Z users should take the time to think it through before interacting with another user.

“For example, if someone on social media asks you to send money with the promise of doubling your returns, you’d want to make sure you really understand how they plan on doing that.”

Lee said those types of offers are scams almost 100% of the time.

“If making money were that easy, then we’d all be rich,” he said.

‘Love Bombing’ or Romance Scams

Lee also said to be wary of any potential partners you meet on social media whose main intention is to convince you to send them money.

“These scammers will start off by ‘love bombing’ and using affectionate words, only to eventually convince you to wire them money,” he said. “Real love takes time, and money can’t buy love.”

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This article originally appeared on Think Scammers Only Target Seniors? 4 Money Scams Gen Z Needs To Look Out For

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