WICOMICO CO., Md. - Being scammed out of money can take just one click of a button.
Sgt. David Owens of Wicomico Bureau of Investigations says it's happening almost daily in the county.
When opening an email a screen may appear reading like this, "With gladness of heart did I send you this message..." Before asking for your help and in return $2.4 million made out to your name.
Or, a well-known bank asking you to update your account settings or it will be suspended. You put in your social security number to a site that looks like your bank's.
Scammers phish for your information and it's happening everywhere.
Meanwhile, Mark Hufe, director of the Center for Cyber Security at Wilmington University says "that account information has been emailed to some other world enemy that's stealing your identity."
Let's put this into perspective.
According to the latest Internet Crime Report, in Maryland there were more than 6,100 complaints last year alone, equating to $9.7 million lost through a number of these scams.
Americans as a whole lost more than $436 million, about 40 times higher than Canada, the second-most scammed country.
"[The emails are coming] from down in the Caribbean. It's from Jamaica. It's up from all over the place and they hide from behind public domains," Owens said.
Many of these scams go on without ever finding the culprit, says Owens, and since it's sent from overseas, it's unlikely local authorities will even find your money or the scammer.
"You can trace it to the end ,but who's sitting at the terminal? You don't know," said Owens.
How can you stay ahead of these scams? Officials say delete any suspicious emails. If the email seems legitimate, Hufe says question the source.
"Call your boss up and ask him if you should open up that pdf file," said Hufe.
If the source isn't a person you know, send emails back or try to get them on the phone. Investigators say the scammer will often disappear back into cyber space.
"If it's too good to be true than it's probably too good to be true," Owens said.
According to the IC3 report, Maryland is the 14th highest scammed state in the country. Delawareans are losing less than $2 million, ranking them 39th. Virginia saw more than $12 million, making them the 8th in the U.S.
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