Why some people are more vulnerable to getting scammed

In a FOX 32 special report: easy money.

We're shattering the stereotype around scam victims, showing you how younger Americans are more at risk for losing their hard earned cash.

It's something many Americans think could never happen to them -- falling for a scam.

But whether it's on social media, over the phone or even on a job website, it turns out everyone is vulnerable.

And more importantly, conventional thinking is often wrong.

“The stereotype or myth that just elderly people get scammed is just not true,” said Leonard Jason.

Jason is a psychology professor at DePaul University. He says understanding who is most likely to get scammed can help empower would-be victims.

“Those who are millennials, who are in their 20s, actually have the highest rate of being scammed,” Jason said.

The Federal Trade Commission says 40 percent of people scammed last year were millennials. For the elderly -- those 70 and over -- only 18 percent were scammed.

And one of the big reasons is that scams have evolved over time.

“The people who are doing the scamming are much more sophisticated than they were in the past,” Jason said.

Now, scammers are turning to the internet, particularly social media, where many millennials frequent to find victims.

Another big target for scammers is those looking for a deal.

“If people are trying to look for bargains, trying to kind of, in a sense, beat the system, and risk-taking, those types of people actually tend to have more difficulties sort of avoiding being scammed,” Jason said.

Jason also says be more on-guard if you're going through a hard time.

“Maybe a death, a divorce, an injury, they tend to be distracted. They have a lot of stuff on their mind,” Jason said. “The scammer can tune right in on some problems that person might be having. They might actually try to be empathetic, so the person gets hooked in, and before they know it, they're being scammed.”

So know the warning signs and if you do get scammed, report it right away so others don't fall for it as well.

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