Live 5 Scambusters: Top scams of 2019

VIDEO: Live 5 Scambusters: Top scams of 2019

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Scam artists have been busy in 2019 with new scams and old twists on familiar schemes.

Looking ahead to the new year, be prepared for online romance scams to heat up again. Scammers approach targets online through dating apps or social media. These romances break the heart and bank account of victims. Romance scams tend to cost victims more money than any other scam.

Government imposter scams are still the most common according to the Federal Trade Commission. These are typically robocalls with voicemail messages impersonating Medicare, the Internal Revenue Service, and Social Security Administration. According to the FTC, Social Security scams outnumbered all other government imposter scams combined through the first half of this year.

Not all government imposters seek out victims over the phone. Scammers also reach out to victims through Facebook messenger, pretending to be a friend or relative. The so-called friend is actually a cloned account pitching a government grant scam. Victims are told to purchase gift cards and pre-pay fees in order to get the grant.

Prepaid gift cards continue to be a hallmark of many popular scams and should be a huge red flag. We’ve also seen gift cards used in other scams to make immediate payments for services such as power bills or cable service promotions.

Whether you’re paying for a promotion or to settle a debt, Dominion Energy, DirecTV, and any other legitimate business will not ask you to pay with gift cards.

If you have a scam story to share, email Kyle Jordan at Scams@live5news.com.

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