Some 25.6 million in U.S. defrauded by scammers

April 23, 2013 at 7:59 AM
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WASHINGTON, April 23 (UPI) -- Eleven percent of U.S. adults, or 25.6 million, paid for fraudulent products or services in 2011, such as weight-loss products or bogus prizes, officials say.

The Federal Trade Commission asked people about their experiences with 17 types of fraud. The most-reported fraud involved weight-loss products, prize promotions, work-at-home programs, unauthorized billing for buyer's clubs or Internet services.

"People who made a first-time purchase by Internet or telephone after getting a telemarketing call, watching a TV ad or infomercial, or opening a spam email, were three times as likely to be victims of at least one fraud as people who didn't buy in those circumstances," the report said.

"Those who'd faced a serious negative life event -- such as divorce, death of a family member or close friend, serious injury or illness in the family, or job loss -- in the two years prior to the survey experienced more fraud than people who hadn't. These people experienced nearly four times as much debt-related fraud, three times as many fraudulent prize promotions and twice as much fraud in general, the report said.

Fewer than 9 percent of non-Hispanic whites experienced at least one fraud, 13 percent of Hispanics experienced at least one fraud, and 17 percent of African-Americans were defrauded. People ages 45-54 were more likely than others to spend money on a fraudulent product or service, the survey indicated.

However, seniors are often targeted. Many scammers call and say they are calling from the government and are ready to send "national medical cards" if a bank account number is provided, but they also push seniors to buy alarm systems or some try to sell seniors a vision program or other healthcare-related item.

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