FTC: Online shopping scams cost consumers millions

The pandemic has left a lot of us with extra time on the internet, and scammers have noticed. A new report from the Federal Trade Commission finds U.S. consumers were fleeced of nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars in 2021 by online scammers.

Viewer David McCrary knew better than to fall for an unsolicited text, suggesting he needed to act on a purchase he knew he didn't make. 

"Frankly, I knew it was a scam," he recalls, but the FTC report says a lot of consumers aren't so lucky. It notes nearly a hundred thousand complaints last year from people who were solicited on social media and other online platforms, for expensive purchases and connections.


Online fraud cost consumers about $770 million and the losses are only growing. 

"People have a tendency just to blindly click links, online, without really stopping to check and think, 'Is this a legitimate entity or not," says the Better Business Bureau's Leah Napoliello.

Online shopping on social media was the biggest culprit where people bought something that never arrived. 


A recent Facebook ad for overstocked and returned tool cabinets is the kind of thing that raises questions, where products valued at hundreds of dollars are being offered for much less. While it all appears official, a quick Google search finds there are a lot of complaints and suspicions about what's being sold.

It's probably well-placed skepticism. Houston tech-expert Juan Guevara Torres says it's a simple process to create a website and business profile, ready to take advantage of unwitting consumers. 

"Within 24 hours I could create an impression of a very nice business, that's doing great," he says.


Despite our tendency to believe those ads are legitimate, unless it's a company you know, it would be smart to pause and do some searching about 'who' they are, and how well they perform. 

Additional safety tips include using a separate email address, and maybe a disposable phone number, to separate the 'real you' from a scammer if the business is not legitimate.

They are easy steps that keep you from being a statistic.