According to the Federal Trade Commission, US citizens have lost $50 million to scammers during the pandemic. But not all states have been swindled at the same rate. CNBC compared data from the FTC and the US Census Bureau to determine which states were hit hardest. The results might surprise you.
By comparing the number of complaints to the FTC, the overall population, and the amount of money funneled to each state in the form of unemployment, business loans, and other relief, a picture emerged.
The hardest hit state by far turned out to be Maine. Although the state’s population is just 1.3 million, they filed 50 complaints per 100,000 residents. That might not sound like much, but it’s more than double the rate of Rhode Island, a similarly sized state in New England.
The next state in the ranking is Washington. Not only did the first official COVID-19 case occur there, but they’ve also struggled with unemployment fraud. According to Suzi LeVine, commissioner of the state’s Employment Security Department, “This is happening because bad actors have acquired people’s personal information through other data breaches outside of the agency. Criminals then use this information to fraudulently apply for unemployment benefits in someone else’s name.”
Rounding out the top six are the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Nevada.
Ranked from most scam complaints to least, here’s how the 50 states (and the District of Columbia) fall:
Keep in mind that these are only the reported cases of fraud. There are quite a few reasons why a state might be ranked lower or higher on the list.
Older people are more likely to be the target of fraud, so it’s no surprise to see Maine and Florida ranked high on the list. Those states have the highest percentage of people age 65 or older.
Another possible explanation for the rankings is the overall security of the state’s computer systems, as well as the personal tech savvy of its citizens. Washington admitted that they had problems with data privacy and security, for example.
A final contributing factor is which states are more or less likely to trust the federal government to help them with fraud cases.