Tech-savvy millennials getting scammed more than seniors

Research conducted by the Better Business Bureau indicates millennials are more vulnerable than baby boomers when it comes to getting duped for their hard-earned cash.

Seniors getting wise to traditional phone and door-to-door con games, say officials

Millennials are more likely to get scammed by fraudsters than seniors, according to a new report from the Better Business Bureau. (Derek Spalding/CBC)

Technology-savvy youth are more likely to be swindled by fraudsters than seniors, according to the results of a Better Business Bureau survey that turns the stereotype of money scams on its head.

Research by the bureau indicates millennials are more vulnerable than baby boomers when it comes to getting duped for their hard-earned cash.

Eleven per cent of seniors reported losing money in a scam, while 89 per cent recognized the threat before getting fooled. Among the 18 to 24 demographic, 34 per cent reported losing money.

Results like these flip the stereotypes of seniors being the primary target of fraudsters, according to one of the report's authors.

"These stereotypes are strongly held and they are wrong," said Emma Fletcher, product manager with the Better Business Bureau Institute. "We are all at risk, but younger and more educated individuals are actually the most likely to be scammed."

Online scams rising

Windsor, Ont., resident Evans Igbava was nearly ripped off three years ago when he lived in Montreal. He was trying to mail a package from Montreal to Nigeria and forked over $400 to what appeared to be an online courier company.

Evans Igbava of Windsor, Ont. nearly got scammed by a fake online courier company. (Aadel Haleem/CBC)

When the so-called company didn't respond, Igbava went to the police. Officers, however, said they could not do anything because there was no proof.

Igbava went back to the website and threatened the person by saying police were investigating. The cash was returned within a few days.

The Windsor resident is not surprised by the latest study, considering how often young people use their phones and computers.

"I see people on their phones more than they have conversations in real life," he said.

The online con game

A range of scams target young web surfers, particularly credit and identification fraud. 

One popular con includes people creating fake messages from reputable companies like Netflix, Apple and Microsoft, according to Brady. 

Fraudsters will ask users to update their financial information with these companies, but in reality, their information is being stolen.

Police urge people go to the websites for any of these companies before they just hand over their personal information through an email or advertisements. There has clearly been a shift in potential targets of scams, explained Const. Andrew Drouillard, spokesman for Windsor police. 

"Phone scams prey on elderly people for the most part, but young people fall victim to scams as well, particularly with scams online," he said. 

One popular scam includes people selling knock off of celebrity outfits, mostly when it comes to high-priced dresses seen at red-carpet galas. Fans of these celebrities seek out quality knock-offs of the dresses and end up disappointed, Brady explained. 

"When the person receives their dress, if they get it all ... it's not properly sewn, it's not the same fabric, it's just a piece of cheap crap they could have sewn up in 10 minutes themselves," she said.

Interpreting the data

The latest data could be skewed slightly because about half the scams still don't get reported, explained Deborah Brady, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau in western Ontario.

Her group's Scam Tracker collected data from 30,000 North Americans, but every incident is self-reported. If a large number of seniors aren't reporting, while millennials eagerly tell their stories online, the latest results could be slightly off.

"That may make some of the facts inconsistent to apply, in order to show that trend has evolved," Brady said.

She has, however, seen more seniors becoming aware of the phone and door-knocking scams. She often visits groups to discuss the threat of fraud and the types of tricks used.

"Seniors have been getting a little more savvy. They are preparing themselves by learning about the scams and are now less likely to fall for them," she said. "They're not targeted any less, but they're not falling for the scams as much."