SUGARCREEK TOWNSHIP, Mo. (WDAF) — In the two years since the pandemic, money lost to online scammers has nearly doubled. One Missouri woman knows that all too well.

Social Catfish published its State of Scams report Wednesday, analyzing FBI and FTC scam reports. After spending time online, Susan Strauss has called them both.

“I just want people to know they are out there. I want them to know how to spot them,” she said.

Last month Strauss, 62, saw a post in a Sugar Creek community group about a work-from-home position.

“I was like, okay, I think I’m going to do this. I’m looking for extra money in this economy. Who isn’t?” she said.

But almost immediately after responding and downloading an app, she found herself in a job interview.

“It was hours long. It was like a legitimate interview. ‘What are your skills? What are your strong points? What are your weaknesses?'” she recalled.

Strauss has lost money to scams three times this year, so she was probably on higher alert than most people over 60. But everything seemed legitimate. The app was real, and so was the Kansas City staffing company she thought she was interviewing with.

“Great. You’ve got 91% on the answers. You’re hired,” the woman referred to as the hiring person told Strauss.

Then it came time to make sure she’d get paid. They asked for a photo of her ID, bank account number and routing information — which she saw as standard requests. Then they said they’d also need her bank account username and password.

“I wouldn’t give that information to my family members,” Strauss said.

“We have to have it. We pay people, and they say they don’t get paid, so we have to track it,” the woman told Strauss.

While Strauss was still in the interview, she called the actual Kansas City staffing company.

“The corporate office told me you would be surprised how often this happens. This is what’s going around now. Scammers are using actual companies,” Strauss said.

According to Social Catfish analysis of FBI data, Kansans lost nearly $34 million to scammers last year, and Missourians lost more than $60 million. That’s part of $6.9 billion in scams in 2021 nationwide.

While young victims are growing at the fastest rate, people over 60 still lose the most.

“When people get scammed like that, they lose hope, and they lose faith, and sometimes people lose money, and it makes me angry,” Strauss said.

The scammers are tough to catch. As soon as the interviewers caught wind she was on to them, Strauss says everything in that app was automatically deleted.

So what can you do?

  • Don’t give money or personal information to someone you’ve never met.
  • Look out for red flags like poor grammar and refusing to video chat.
  • Most importantly, do your research.