Asset Protection

Internet Scams in the Age of AI

Posted on March 5, 2024

When was the last time you received a phone call or email from a scammer? It you were contacted recently, you aren’t alone.

Internet scams show no signs of letting up. In fact, the problem may be getting worse. According to the most recent report from the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), the FBI received 800,944 complaints and the potential total loss grew from $6.9 billion on 2021 to more than $10.2 billion in 2022.

The costliest scams involved compromised emails, romance fraud, and spoofing the account of a person known to the victim to gather personal or financial information, the FBI reports.

We at Larson encourage you to be hyper vigilant:

Beware of fake invoices and suspicious emails. Double check the sender’s email address. The name may sound familiar, but the email address may actually be a long string of unrelated characters. Some scammers use emails which substitute numbers for letters (think a 1 in place of an “L” or an “I”), otherwise, sometimes they simply use .net instead of .com.

Expecting an invoice and the sender is asking you to provide new bank info? That’s a potential red flag. Verify you are using a trusted source when making payments, and if you’re a business owner, require your employees to call and verify payment requests using phone numbers that are on file.

Scammers pretend to be from an institution you are familiar with. You’ve probably received these emails or phone calls. Someone reaches out to you claiming to be from the IRS, the Social Security Administration, or another government organization and says you owe money and that you must pay, or legal action will be taken. The email may have official logos, or your caller ID may reflect the government agency’s name.

We cannot emphasize this enough: the IRS will never make first contact via a phone call and claim you owe them money. You’ll receive a letter with details and steps you can take. If you receive a call, simply hang up the phone. Do not engage the caller. Some may threaten or become abusive.

If you “settle” and pay over the phone, expect repeated phone calls as more “discrepancies” are found. In other words, they will extract as much cash as you allow them too.

Avoid Social Security scams. In one version, scammers call and tell you your Social Security number has been linked to a crime involving drug dealing or money laundering. They tell you your SSN is blocked, but for a fee it can be reactivated. This is a tactic to make it seem urgent so you take immediate action. The scammer will ask you to confirm your Social Security number.

Again, hang up. The Social Security Administration will never call and ask for your Social Security number.

Scammers will tell you how to pay. They often insist that you pay by sending money through a money transfer company or by putting money on a gift card and then giving them the number on the back. Some may mail you a (fraudulent) check, direct you to deposit it, and then send them money. This is a common scam on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. The caller wants to purchase your items sight unseen. Or they will want you to set up a PayPal account or some other type of electronic payment.

Avoid phishing scams. Phishing is when a person is contacted by email, telephone, or text message by someone posing as a legitimate institution to lure individuals into providing sensitive data such as banking information, credit card details, or passwords. These scams try to trick you into clicking on a link or opening an attachment.

Some examples include:

  • Claim they’ve noticed some suspicious activity or log-in attempts.
  • Include a fake invoice.
  • Direct you to click on a link to make a payment.
  • Say you’re eligible to register for a government refund.
  • Offer a coupon for free items.

Avoid clicking on suspicious links, and never give out personal information to a stranger over the phone, no matter how legitimate they sound.

You’re not alone in navigating these challenges. In times of uncertainty, Larson is your ally and resource. Together, we’ll work to protect your assets and ensure your financial future remains secure.

Stay Vigilant

The best defense is to stay vigilant and use common sense. Here are some ways you can help prevent fraud:

Sign up for account alerts. Many banks and credit card institutions offer free alerts to help you monitor your finances in real-time and will notify you the moment something is amiss.

Enable Multi-Factor Authentication. Instead of simply entering a password to access your accounts, a temporary passcode will be sent to your email or smart phone before you are able to log in.

Review your account details regularly. Verify your contact information is accurate and up to date. Review your banking and credit card statements for accuracy.

For more information, check out these resources from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

What to Do if You are Scammed

Scammers have become more sophisticated, and even the smartest and most savvy of us can succumb to their tactics.

If you do fall victim to a scam and your information was compromised, visit to report the issue and create a personal recovery plan. Steps will include:

  1. Calling the companies where you know fraud occurred.
  2. Placing a fraud alert, obtaining your current credit reports, and freezing your credit to prevent accounts from being opened in your name and without your knowledge.
  3. Reporting the identity theft to the FTC.

Then, contact your Larson Advisor. We are here to help guard your wealth and grow it for the future, and we want to make sure your defensive plan is strong. You’re not alone in navigating these challenges. In times of uncertainty, Larson is your ally and resource. Together, we’ll work to protect your assets and ensure your financial future remains secure. Your peace of mind is our priority, and we’re here to support you every step of the way.

Information on scams courtesy of Charles Sherry, M.Sc

Share this Post...