FBI warning people of scams on the rise during the holiday season

ROSS TOWNSHIP, Pa. — The FBI is putting out a warning that the number of people getting scammed locally is continuing to grow as more people begin shopping for holiday gifts online.

This year almost 1 million dollars have been stolen in online shopping scams in western Pennsylvania alone.

“With the holiday season people are online a lot, they are spending more money making more purchases. This is the time of year to be careful of the fraud schemes we see out there,” said Michael Shanahan, assistant special agent in charge.

The FBI has seen an increase in the amount of money stolen through online shopping scams across the county with nearly 45,000 complaints filed and $276 million stolen.

In 2021, more than 600 victims lost nearly $850,000. So far in 2022, more than 400 victims lost nearly $940,000.

There are two different types of scams authorities want people to be aware of this holiday season. Non-payment scams and non-delivery scams.

“Non payment is where you as a seller pay something online and [do not] receive payment and non-delivery is the converse - where you attempt to buy something and spend your money and don’t receive a product,” said Shanahan.

The FBI said to be wary of websites offering deals or people selling items at significantly discounted prices.

“If a deal seems too good to be true,” said Shanahan, “It probably is. Resist the temptation to give you information away, to send money to someone unless you know where that money is going and you’re confident about it.”

Authorities say the scammers are great at what they do. Some have even stolen thousands of dollars pretending to sell puppies.

“They provide pictures of adorable looking puppies, people are often looking to get a pet for their children or family for Christmas, so they will send money for the pet, then money for vaccination or administrative fees and ultimately no pet arrives, so you lose your money and your children are disappointed. No puppy on Christmas,” said Shanahan.

If someone notices quickly they may be able to cancel credit card transaction through their banks. Other methods of payment make it much more difficult to ever get that money back.

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