Top Ten Scams of 2016 in Kansas City

January 12, 2017

In many ways, the Kansas City area reflected the national landscape for scam activity, but had a few distinct differences. 

The top-10 scams reported to the Kansas City BBB through 2016 are as follows:

1. Sweepstakes/Lottery/Prizes - Consumers are contacted via misleading mailers that claim the consumer has won money. However, the so-called sweepstakes wants consumers to send them money for a product, for tax purposes or some other fees. Consumers have not actually won anything. Kansas City is the home for several businesses that consumers receive mailers from and believe they've won money.

2. Tax Collection - After the authorities raided a compound in Mumbai, resulting in dozens of arrests, reports of tax scams plummeted, but not before it dominated most of 2016. A caller tells the victim that they owe taxes and demands immediate payment lest they face jailtime. The threats are insincere and idle. The BBB still gets occasional reports about this scam, so it is definitely not completely gone. Sometimes these scammers can get vindictive if you don't fall for their lies.

3. Online Purchase - This is a new category to ScamTracker, which is why it makes its first appearance on the list. This occurs when consumers order merchandise online and it is never delivered. The Kansas City area was hit harder than it has been in the past due to recent successes by Kansas City sports franchises. Fraudulent sports memorabilia stores began targeting Chiefs, Royals and Sporting KC fans.

4. Other - We wouldn't normally acknowledge this as a category worthy of top-10 consideration, but Kansas Citians had been hit hard by various uncategorized scams such as fake FAFSA applications, fraudulent magazine sales and a mysterious notification of a missed delivery left on homeowners doors that ended up being a water filtration sales company.

5. Phishing - The Kansas City area was one of a few municipalities hit by a postal phishing scam called "Business Compliance Division." Phishing occurs when scammers attempt to extract personal information by claiming that a request for the sensitive information comes from a trusted source (such as Apple, Google, FBI or even the BBB). Business Compliance Division claimed that businesses needed to update their information with the state to avoid penalties..

6. Employment - Much like the rest of the country, Kansas Citians were contacted by many scammers claiming to have great jobs already lined up for job-seekers. The scams usually required potential employees to compromise their bank accounts, send money overseas or to other untrusted sources, or pay fees.

7. Credit cards - This category covers a wide array of scams that include credit card skimming, data breaches resulting in credit card use, fraudulent websites that collect and then use credit card information, etc. This didn't crack the top-ten at the national level.

8. Government Grants - Scammers call potential victims and tell them they've been granted money by the federal government for various reasons--usually that they pay their bills on time or avoided arrest in their lives. They often claim that the award is $7000-9,000.

9. Identity Theft - Like credit card scams, ID Theft covers a wide array of circumstances and often overlaps with the category of credit card scam. ID thef is simply when someone uses another person's information without permission. This doesn't have to be social security numbers, bank accounts or credit card numbers. It can be addresses, names, birthdays and any number of other things. Scammers can uses simple information to convince you that they are a legitimate and trusted source. They can open up credit cards in a consumer's name or change their addresses, billing addresses and even use another person's ID to bill utilities.

10. Debt Collection Scam - This was more common in the Kansas City are just a few years ago, but some of the bigger scams were shut down. This happens just like the Tax Collection scam, but with different threats. A supposed debt collector contacts the potential victim and says that if a debt is not paid, they will take the potential victim to court. Sometimes the scammers threaten to send the Sheriff to the victim's house to arrest them.