It was another banner year for scammers in Northern New England, as both Mainers and New Hampshirites collectively took it on the chin.

According to data from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the feds received 6,873 reports of fraud from Mainers in 2022. The total loss of money from these scams was over $21 million. That is beyond staggering. The FTC included the most common scams against Mainers, which were imposter scams, identity theft, online shopping and negative reviews, banks and lenders, prizes, sweepstakes and lotteries.

New Hampshire didn't fare much better. Granite Staters had a total of 7,894 reports of fraud, totaling in over $18 million in losses. The list of common scams was similar to Maine's list, but also included auto-related fraud. My goodness, do we live a world with a lot of awful people.

Maine and New Hampshire are certainly not alone in this epidemic. As a whole, the FTC reported the United States was scammed out of $8.8 billion. That is a larger number than the Gross Domestic Product of 56 countries.

So, why are scammers so successful? There are many reasons. First off, it's an international problem. Many scams are not insulated in America. To ask numerous law enforcement agencies from around the globe to work together is like trying to discover the secrets of cold fusion.

And truth be told, most scams are pretty far down the pecking order of crime to investigate. It's sometimes just hard to find the resources to stop most of them.

The best line of defense is prevention. Here are some tips from the FTC on how to prevent yourself from being scammed.

-Don’t give your personal or financial information in response to a request that you didn’t expect.
-Resist the pressure to act immediately.
-Know how scammers tell you to pay.
-Stop and talk to someone you trust.

I will add in my favorite tip: never answer the phone or open an email from an unknown source. Believe me, there's no way your car warranty is going to be renewed from a terrible, computer-generated voice.

Sadly, this isn't a problem that will likely ever go away. As long as humanity exists, there will be people who try to get ahead without any moral integrity.

Stay prepared and vigilant. It's ugly out here.

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