(KXAN) — Fraud may have hit a crisis level, according to the AARP.
“It’s not just us. Most Americans in a survey we just produced say the same thing. And we’re seeing it in the data,” said Kathy Stokes, director of fraud prevention programs at AARP.
“Just what was reported last year to the Federal Trade Commission was $9 billion in losses and we know that’s just the tip of the iceberg,” Stokes said.
Experts worry artificial intelligence, or AI, may make things worse. Last month, the Federal Trade Commission warned AI can be used to produce high quality deep fakes and “turbocharge” fraud and scams, NBC reported.
“Very concerned because right now, the scams are so sophisticated that they’re almost unrecognizable as scams. When you enter chat GPT and AI it’s just that much more unrecognizable,” said Stokes. “But the stories are always the same. It’s going to be somebody that’s reaching out to you out of the blue, trying to get you into that heightened emotional state. Let that be the sign that somebody is trying to deceive you and don’t engage.”
And if someone does fall victim to a scam, many don’t report it.
“We know sometimes people don’t even realize that experiencing a scam is a financial crime and sometimes they’ll call the police and report it and the police will say that’s not a crime. It’s a civil matter. Call a lawyer. And that’s just not true at all,” said Stokes.
The AARP survey also found 85% of Americans say fraud can happen to anyone but 53% surveyed said if someone loses money to a scam, it’s because they are gullible.
“We have to change the narrative we can’t blame fraud victims for being victims of financial crimes. Fraud is a crime just like a violent crime or a property crime. Yet we treat it so differently and AARP is leading an effort to get out and front of as many people as we can to say, we’ve got to shift that narrative. It is not the victim’s fault.”
The AARP is now asking law enforcement agencies prioritize fraud crimes.
“We need to not blame and shame the victim but provide support, get them to report it to the police and get more of society understanding. We need to be behind this, we’ve got to change the law enforcement response to this crime.”