MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Con artists steal millions of dollars from Americans every year. But the people most likely to fall for a scam may not be the ones you first think.
Father Mike Ortiz thought he won over a million dollars from the Publishers Clearing House in 2014.
“I thought this is great,” he said, “Thank you, God! Thank you, God!”
But when the 87-year-old called to collect his winnings, a con artist told him he first had to pay $40,000 in taxes.
He did and soon found out the letter was a fake and he was the victim of a scam.
“It was a very difficult experience, an embarrassing experience,” he said.
Most people think that senior citizens are most likely to fall for a scam, but new research from the Better Business Bureau finds it’s actually the exact opposite.
“Younger people and more educated people do tend to be more likely to lose money to a scam,” said Emma Fletcher with the Better Business Bureau.
The report looked at 30,000 scam cases.
Only 11 percent of seniors ended up giving the con artist money, but three times as many 18 to 24 year olds fell for the scam and forked over cash.
The Better Business Bureau calls it optimism bias. Younger people feel over confident they can spot a con and don’t keep their guard up.
“People need to understand that we’re all at risk and these stereotypes that are widely held that it’s older people or people that are perhaps gullible or are less educated, those are really just stereotypes and not an accurate reflection of the reality that we see,” Fletcher said.
The Better Business Bureau also found that seniors are much more likely than millennials to report a scam.