PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - We're quickly approaching the most wonderful time of the year with good food, quality family time and a whole lot of shopping.
But Pittsburgh's FBI office says people in our area keep losing their hard-earned money to scammers.
Acting Special Agent in Charge Doug Olson sat down with KDKA's Meghan Schiller to talk about how people can avoid falling victim.
"Scammers are always after us for our money and our personal information, but especially during the holiday time," said Olson.
He emphasizes the "who reached out first" question to consider.
"If you didn't create the engagement, so in other words, if somebody is reaching out to you and you didn't start the engagement, then be very wary about providing personal information, especially personal banking information," said Olson.
Olson tells KDKA the FBI wants to get this warning out early, before holiday shopping kicks off.
"You're spending such a large portion of your shopping dollars this time of year that you're primed for a deal that seems to good to be true, right?"
If it seems too good to be true, the FBI says it is.
By the numbers, we're seeing more and more people fall victim to scams in western Pennsylvania.
In 2021, 620 people lost just shy of $850,000 in scams. So far this year, 429 people have lost almost $940,000.
"And we haven't really even gotten into the Christmas holiday season, the main shopping period of November and December, so we fully expect to exceed those numbers from last year," said Olson.
He tells KDKA most criminals will try to fraud you one of two ways: with non-delivery or non-payment crimes.
"Non-delivery would mean you see something, maybe a really good price or something online, you purchase it, you send the money, and you never get the good that you ordered," said Olson. "And the other is the exact opposite of that. You're selling something online on eBay or something or other, you think you received payment for it, you send the good or whatever you're selling and then you never receive payment for it. That's a non-payment thing."
But if you fall victim, Olson tells KDKA to not feel embarrassed, but speak up. Olson says the more people who report it to the FBI's website IC3.gov, the better.
"What we can do through the IC3 is we can see if there's actors that are targeting hundreds of different victims and then we can go after those largest offenders."
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