Tuscaloosa may be the most fraud-ridden metro area in the country, according to statistics from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
The FTC statistics suggest that Alabamians nearly lost $54 million to fraud in 2022. Nationally, Americans lost a cumulative $2.1 billion.
Last year, Alabama residents reported 53,153 incidents of fraud to law enforcement. This was 2% of the nearly 2.4 million fraud reports made nationwide. The median amount of money lost per person in Alabama was $500, below the national median of $650. Together, this toll totaled $53.9 million for the state.
The metro area with the largest number of fraudulent reports was Birmingham, with 13,089 reported incidents of fraud. Still, the Tuscaloosa area had the highest number of reports per capita, with 5,072 reports, which is roughly 2,264 reports per 100,000 residents.
In fact, Tuscaloosa’s number of fraud reports per capita exceeded every other metro area in the United States, including the Atlanta area, which was the second most fraudulent metro area. Other fraud-dense areas included Miami, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, Orlando and North Port, Florida.
Alabama, as a whole, was the ninth most fraud-laden state in the country. A neighboring state, Georgia, was the most fraud-laden, followed by Delaware, Florida, Nevada and Maryland. The least fraud-laden states were South Dakota, Iowa and Nebraska.
According to previous data, Tuscaloosa has been the most fraud-laden area in the country every year since 2020. In 2019, it wasn’t even in the top 25 but started climbing the rankings during the first quarter of 2020. By the third quarter, it reached the top and has remained ever since.
In 2022, over a quarter of the incidents in Alabama were imposter scams. Imposter scams can come in different varieties, but all involve a scammer trying to persuade someone to send them money. Some scammers pose as potential romantic partners, tech support or even federal agents.
Other popular fraudulent schemes in the state involved online shopping scams, cons promising prizes, sweepstakes, lotteries, and internet services. More included health care, telephone, job opportunity, travel, cyber security and investment-related scams.
Similarly, imposter scams were the most prevalent fraud category in the Tuscaloosa area.
The victims of fraud are disproportionately older. In 2022, phones were the primary contact method used by scammers to contact victims over 70. Victims ages 70 to 79 were more likely to pay scammers with credit cards, whereas older victims were more likely to send gift cards.
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