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Florida is again the US scam capital, and millennials are the prey

When it comes to scams, Florida is still No. 1, with millennials — not seniors — in the crosshairs, according to the latest fraud report from the Federal Trade Commission.

With nearly 3 million consumer complaints made to the agency in 2018, the Sunshine State ranked No. 1 for fraud and No. 4 for identity theft, according the latest FTC Data Book, which compiles statistics from complaints made directly to the agency.

Of 1.4 million frauds reported to the agency, more than 210,000 consumers in Florida made complaints with losses of more than $84 million. That’s up from $54.7 million in 2017. Georgia and Nevada rounded out the top three states reporting fraud per 100,000 in population.

Nationally, impostor scams, telephone/mobile services and ship-at-home/catalog sales were the most prevalent frauds, the report showed. But in Florida, the top frauds were debt collection, identity theft and impostor scams.

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The agency also tracks identity thefts in a separate category that includes credit card, bank and utility frauds.

Nationally, there were more than 444,000 complaints of this type of theft. Floridians made more than 38,000 reports, ranking No. 4. Georgia, Nevada and California were ahead of the Sunshine State, which ranked second last year.

Statistics, broken down by city and state, include aggregated complaints made to the FTC, state and federal law enforcement agencies, the Better Business Bureau, AARP Fraud Watch Network and Microsoft Cyber Crime Center, among others.

Eighteen Florida cities were among the 50 metropolitan areas ranked for fraud: Homosassa Springs was first (again), Jacksonville was third, Miami/Fort Lauderdale/West Palm Beach was 15 and Orlando came in at 19.

Consumers reported losing a total of $1.48 billion, a 38 percent increase over 2017. Median losses were $375.

In a twist, tricksters were most successful scamming millennials. Forty-three percent of adults ages 20-29 reported being bilked out of an average of $400. About 15 percent of senior citizens in their 70s reported fraud, losing an average of $750. Those 80 and older lost the most, about $1,700.

Consumers mostly paid for frauds by wire transfer, but payments through gift cards increased a whopping 95 percent. The agency reminded consumers that the government will not ask consumers to wire money, and that it is illegal for telemarketers to ask you to pay by wire.

If you’ve been a victim, make a consumer complaint at ftc.gov/complaint.

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