There’s a famous saying attributed to P.T. Barnum that there’s a sucker born every minute. That is, unless you’re from the Millenial generation, in which case the suckers got cranked out faster than the production line at Willy Wonka’s candy factory. Need proof? Here’s USA Today:
Move over, grandma and grandpa. Your Millennial grandkids reported losing money to financial scams last year than you did, new government data shows.
In all, 40% of Americans in their twenties who reported fraud in 2017 indicated they lost money to the schemes, the Federal Trade Commission said last week in its annual databook of consumer complaints.
The percentage surpassed the 18% of U.S. consumers 70 or older who reported they lost money to fraudsters last year, the FTC said.
Long story short, Millennials got took at a rate more than twice that of seniors. No word on how much of that fraud involved Nigerian princes or foreign lotteries—but at least the oldsters can say that the fake Viagra scam looked like it could have been plausible.
Don’t fret, however. There is one cloud in the silver lining:
[T]he median loss reported by adults in their seventies was $621, and for those aged 80 or over it was $1,092. Both age groups reported a higher median loss than the $400 for those aged 20-29, the data showed.
So even though Millennials got swindled more, they actually lost less money overall. It’s cold comfort, to be sure—kind of like that time as a kid when I ordered Sea Monkeys from the back of a Richie Rich comic book, only to have a package of brine shrimp arrive in the mail 4-6 weeks later—but it’s better to learn these life lessons on the cheap, especially when your allowance from mom and dad barely covers the Netflix subscription.
Still, that does leave the question as to why Millennials fall for these petty cons at such a higher rate than their forebears. Perhaps it‘s just because the fraud has gone so high-tech, and they’re the generation that has basically grown up with a smartphone in their hands. Back in the old days of free AOL disks and dial up internet, we only got online after we got home, and even then the bandwidth was so bad that it took ten whole minutes just to load the Space Jam page. There really wasn’t enough time for cyber-baddies to ply out attentions with clever ploys. Millenials, on the other hand, are connected every waking moment of the day—so they’re constantly bombarded with all kinds of this and even more of that. It’s inevitable that they’d be bigger victims for that reason alone.
Of course, you could also make the less sympathetic argument that over the last couple of decades, schools have ditched critical thinking skills in favor of politically correct pablum, and this has resulted in a whole generation of young adults who are ripe for the plucking. I mean, this is the same bunch that thinks Tide Pods make for a great snack. Is it any wonder that they’d be lining up to be the next fool parted from his money?
We indeed live in interesting times.