Internet Scams on the Rise in Madison

By: Zac Schultz
By: Zac Schultz

Madison: Internet scams in Madison are on the rise.

Jim Dean is like so many other people who have been scammed over the Internet. He received what he thought was an email from his new bank asking him submit his information to avoid having his debit card cancelled.

"So I logged into their thing on the internet. They asked me for a bunch of information and boom, before I knew it, it was gone. I knew it when I logged off. I said, 'What did I just do?'" says Dean.

He had just given his information to a foreign company that was quickly trying to clean out his bank account. But the lost money isn't the worst part.

The scammers also got enough information to steal his identity.

"So for the rest of my life I'm going to be looking over my shoulder, trying to find out if somebody is trying to be me," says Dean.

Dean isn't alone. Madison Police Officer Mike Hansen says since January they've counted more than 50 different people who reported being scammed.

"We've seen a huge spike in the amount of fraudulent cases where people are losing large sums of money in the $10,000."

UW Professor Karen Goebel says despite all the consumer warnings and victim testimonials, people continue to get scammed because of greed.

"People are always looking for something for nothing. I think it's a greed kind of thing that we're going to be the lucky ones."

Professor Goebel says the Internet has changed the nature of scams.

"With the Internet we act quickly. We're used to clicking on things quickly and moving ahead and maybe we don't think clearly enough."

"People really need to think before they use that computer and click,” agrees Dean.

Officials say the advice on how to avoid being scammed remains the same; don't give out personal information over the Internet, and if it looks too good to be true it probably is.

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