FORT KNOX, Ky. — Like it or not, scammers have become a fact of life for Americans.
Scammers’ activities this year seem to have reached a fevered pitch. News broke late on June 13 that a Louisville, Kentucky scammer has finally been detained after allegedly stealing the identification of more than 30 victims over a several-year crime spree.
Concerns about scammers, including identity thieves, have led members of the Fort Knox Directorate of Emergency Services to issue a warning on the subject in the form of a white paper. The information paper, titled Internet Crime Alert, highlights some of the methods and efforts of scammers this year.
“Scammers do not care if you are active duty, retired, veteran, or have limited income. They do not care about your background or demographics,” writes DES officials. “Their goal is financial gain of services, monitory property, or money.”
According to the white paper, 2,724 personnel have become victims of scammers this year – an average of about 545 targets each month so far.
“Of those victims, 817 were in Kentucky and 13 were on Fort Knox,” according to the officials.
The paper warns personnel to be aware of some of the most effective ways scammers gain access to personal information: through emails and text messages; on the dark web; knowledge of current events; and information found on social media sites.
“Scam artists can steal your identity, and your personal or financial information without your permission,” according to the information paper. “It can damage your credit score and cost you time, money, and frustration.”
Officials write that email and text theft targets your passwords and account and Social Security numbers.
“If they get that information, they could access your email, bank, or other accounts,” reveals the paper, “or, they could sell your information to other scammers. Scammers launch thousands of phishing attacks like these every day — and they’re often successful.”
The Dark Web provides scammers easy access to personal information at little cost to them, according to the paper.
“This personal information may have your Social Security number, telephone numbers, current or past addresses, bank accounts, social media, current and past family members, and your level of outstanding [debt],” from the paper. “Scammers use this information as leverage to get you to come to their terms. They use a variety of ways to hustle you, banks, lenders, law firms, police, and other Federal agencies.”
Officials note that scammers use current events to gain the trust of targeted victims, even when they have no personal involvement with the events.
“Their pleas for information and/or money are intended to work on your emotions,” states the paper. “Most scammers do not like cash transactions, but rather go for prepaid credit cards, gift cards, money orders, or wire transactions that cannot be traced.”
Social media offers scammers a wealth of knowledge about Soldiers and their families. According to the paper, scammers can use information about deployments, marriage relationships, shopping trips and more to make their requests for money more believable.
“If a scammer builds trust with a victim, they will ask for more and more until you are out of financial resources,” concludes the paper. “At the risk of sounding repetitive, if it sounds too good to be true or questionable in any way, hang up the call or don’t reply to the email, and report it.”
Officials warn victims that while law enforcement will attempt to locate a scammer, they don’t have the capability of recovering any financial losses.
Editor’s Note: Anyone who suspects they have been a victim of a scammer can contact the Better Business Bureau, Consumers Reports, the FBI Internet Fraud IC3 team at https://www.ic3.gov/, or reach out to the nearest police department. Visit Common Scams and Crimes — FBI to learn more about common types of scams.