MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Whether it is a phishing email or a hacked computer, con artists love using technology to rip people off but a new report from the Better Business Bureau found the riskiest scams are often very low-tech.
Last year, Iraq war veteran Peter Webster hired a contractor to renovate his home. He handed over a deposit of nearly $14,000 but the contractor did just a little bit of work and then disappeared – keeping the deposit.
“You know the monies that we had to finish the home and now we’re kind of back to square one with nothing,” said Webster.
“The truth is this can happen to anyone,” said Emma Fletcher with BBB Scam and Fraud Initiatives.
Fletcher from the Better Business Bureau co-authored a new report on the riskiest scams and found home improvement cons are number one. Other top rip-offs include employment scams and fake check scams also known as overpayment scams which almost cost Jordan Lyle hundreds.
Last year, she went online searching for work as a nanny. A single mother responded to her post, sending a picture and offering to pay $1,900 up front.
“She said, ‘I need you to take out the money and then go deposit it into another bank’ and that’s where I thought this is weird,” said Lyle.
Here’s how an overpayment scam works. A con artist sends a check for a thousand dollars, asks the victim to deposit it, keep $200 for themselves and wire $800 back to the scammer.
A few days later the bank realizes the check is a fake and now the victim is on the hook for the full $1,000.
“Just because a check has cleared doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. It can come up as a fake and you’ll be out the money,” said Fletcher.
Luckily for Lyle, she became suspicious and never sent any money.
The Better Business Bureau said that anyone can fall victim to a scam but people 18 to 24 are the most likely to lose money from a scam.