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Authories see spike in internet, phone scams

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Minnesota authorities say reports of internet, wire and phone scams are spiking this year.

Public safety officials say this week's settlement between the Minnesota-based Moneygram wire transfer company and the Federal Trade Commission highlights the growing problem. 

Moneygram agreed to pay $18 million for handling money transfers in alleged scams.

Jim Arlt is an investigator with the fraud unit in the state's Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement division. He said the increasing fraud involves fake lotteries, secret shopper scams, bogus insurance for people with bad credit, loan scams and cons based on internet dating.

"It's definitely increasing. There's no doubt about it," Arlt said. "We have about 36,000 complaints so far this year, just in Minnesota. We are looking at that and still seeing it as the tip of the iceberg."

As few as one in 20 victims report their losses to law enforcement, Arlt said.

He said his unit has received 36,000 fraud complaints so far this year. He said that could represent as little as 5 percent of the actual number of cases in the state.