Main Content

By Edward Avery, JD, CTFA

AARP has reported that 3 out of 4 U.S. adults have experienced or have been targeted by at least one form of fraud. Scams and fraud have soared across the U.S., but reported losses are just the tip of the iceberg. Losses are often not reported because of the shame and blame attached to the victims of fraud. More than 1 in 4 people who reported losing money to Fraud in 2021 said it started on Social Media.

The scams fall into three different types, Investment Scams, Romance/Accident Scams, and Business Scams.

With Investment Scams, make sure to talk over large sum investments offered by telephone salespeople with a trusted friend, family member, or financial advisor. It is never rude to wait and think about an offer. Always take your time making a decision. Legitimate companies won’t pressure you to make a snap decision. No legitimate investment will require upfront money to reap astronomical returns within unrealistic timeframes. If something sounds too good to be true and it’s coming from somebody you don’t know, it’s almost certainly a scam. Be wary of “get rich quick” or “easy money” schemes, especially if unsolicited.

Romance Scams involve interactions over social media. The Love of your life: If an Internet flame asks you for money, it’s almost certainly a scam. Even if they promise to pay you back, you should assume you’ll never see the money again. The Fake Accident scammer convinces senior citizens that a relative or close friend has been in an accident and needs money for treatment. Sometimes the grandparent’s scam is about the scammers gathering information from social media and using it to extract money from their victims. They may imitate a close relative or an official person and say the relative needs funds due to an accident or an arrest for an offense. They then request funds be wired immediately to assist the person that is related to them.

Business Scams use known links to access businesses online. The two companies scammers use most are Amazon and Apple since most people are familiar with these entities and may have accounts with them. Avoid sending money to individuals claiming to be from legitimate businesses asking for payment or offering you an unexpected refund. Do not pay with reloadable cards. Government offices and trustworthy companies do not ask for this. If you make purchases online, do purchase through an HTTPS site, as opposed to HTTP. Unsecured sites have no lock sign or “https” in the address. When doing anything sensitive online, make sure you only provide personal or financial information to a secure site. If not secure, it can be stolen easily. Any reputable bank or online shopping site will require a secure connection.


These are 5 Signs of a Scam. If you spot any of these tactics, stop and walk away. You’re probably being scammed.

  1. They contacted you
    When you contact a business, you know who is on the other end of the line. However, when someone contacts you first, you cannot be certain they’re telling the truth. You don’t know if they are who they say they are. And remember, email addresses and caller ID information can be faked.
  2. They dangle bait — usually money
    Let’s face it, people simply don’t give away large sums of money. If someone dangles bait in front of you — a big prize, a shopping spree, an easy loan — for nothing? They are probably lying. Don’t pay for a “free prize.” If a caller tells you the payment is for taxes, he or she is violating federal law.
  3. They want your personal information
    Anytime anyone asks for your personal information — bank accounts, social security number, etc. — you should be on alert. Don’t give it away to someone you don’t know. If you do, you may become a victim of identity theft. Never send money or give out personal information such as credit card numbers and expiration dates, bank account numbers, dates of birth, or social security numbers to unfamiliar companies or unknown persons.
  4. You have to pay them first
    If someone offers you a prize, debt relief, or employment — but first you must pay an upfront fee to get it — you’re probably being scammed. The pigeon drop is when a scammer tells the senior citizen, they found a large sum of money they are willing to split if the senior will provide a “good faith” payment by withdrawing money from their bank account. Often, there is a second con artist involved who portrays a “trustworthy” participant, such as a lawyer or officer.
  5. You have to wire money or send gift cards
    If you’re about to wire money or send gift cards to someone in order to receive a prize or pay off a debt collector that contacts you ... STOP! This may be a scammer trying to take your money. Scammers love wire transfers because the money is available for withdrawal almost immediately before everyone figures out what they’re up to. Never respond to a request to wire money.


Remember, Midland States Bank does NOT initiate emails, texts or phone calls seeking your personal data, account, or card numbers.

Always, report instances of fraud and scams to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or at