There may be a stereotypical image that older people are the most likely to fall for the Nigerian Prince scam. For us youngsters, only older people can fall for lifelong scams… we are very wrong.
The surprising truth is that Generation Z, those born between the late 1990s and early 2010s, suffer far more scams than their boomer grandparents.
A recent Deloitte survey shows that while 5% of Boomers reported having been scammed on the Internet, 16% of Generation Z users, more than three times as many as those of the previous generation, had been victims of the same crimes.
Generation Z also saw their social media accounts hacked more than Boomers (17% vs. 8%) and their location information misused more than any other generation.
Data that leave a generation of digital natives in a bad way
Cybercrimes such as phishing, identity theft, romance scams and cyberbullying affect younger generations more than older ones. When it comes to fraud, 44% of young adults aged 20-29 have been victims, compared to only 23% of those aged 70-79.
The situation seems to be getting worse for young people. Vox notes that online scam victims under the age of 20 lost an estimated total of $8.2 million in 2017. In 2022, that figure stood at $210 million.
Probably the main reason why younger people fall victim to these scams is that they are simply much more connected to the Internet.
But there are other, less obvious explanations. Their reliance on technology, for example, increases the chances that they will stumble upon a convincing email or ad that is actually a scam.
Being a digital native, the main handicap
Younger generations who grew up with the Internet tend to be much more comfortable with it, prioritizing convenience over security.
A 2020 study found that while Generation Z was very aware of Internet security, they fared worse than millennials when it came to actually implementing these practices.
In addition, the fact that Generation Z is more comfortable meeting people online also increases their chances of falling victim to a romance scam.
Tanneasha Gordon, a Deloitte director who leads the firm’s digital trust and data business, told Vox, “They [younger people] shop online a lot, and there are so many fraudulent websites and e-commerce platforms that literally cater to them, that will take them from the social media platform they’re on through a fraudulent ad.”
The influencer scam: what is it?
One type of scam that targets many young people is the so-called influencer scam. It usually involves a stranger asking someone with a social media account to be a brand ambassador and offering a free sample. The victim is asked to pay shipping costs and provide their address, but the item never arrives.
A UN report revealed last month that hundreds of thousands of people around the world have been trafficked and forced to participate in online scam operations, so this is not a minor practice, it is a real problem that affects people.
In short, knowing how the Internet works makes us, curiously, more trusting and clueless. Older people, on the other hand, are more wary of giving out their data on the net. Paradoxes of life.