BBB: Military spouses and veterans report highest losses to employment scams

Milwaukee, Wis. – A recent Better Business Bureau (BBB) report shed light on those most impacted by employment scams: military spouses and veterans. Military spouses and veterans were both more likely to be victimized than non-military consumers, and more notably, the median dollar loss was significantly higher – nearly double – than those reported by non-military consumers.

Employment scams were the #1 riskiest scam in 2018 and 2019 according to the BBB Risk Index, which measures exposure, susceptibility, and monetary loss based on reports to BBB Scam Tracker. This was true for both the overall consumer population as well as military consumers specifically. When broken out by military demographic, employment scams are the most risky scam for military spouses and the second most risky scam for veterans.

In the wake of COVID-19, the Employment Scams Report, which surveyed 10,670 U.S. and Canadian consumers who reported encountering an employment scam in the last three years, found that nearly three-quarters of those who lost money had trouble paying their monthly bills and more than half were unemployed. The top reason victims engaged with the scammer was the ability to work from home – a critical need of those balancing family obligations and unpredictable PCOS moves. Flexibility was also noted as a top reason for engaging in these opportunities.

The 2019 Military Consumers and Marketplace Trust report, published with support from the Association of Military Banks of America, highlighted some of the unique challenges and key risk factors faced by military and veteran families, especially in regard to employment scams. A cumulative look of self-reported data in the Employment Scams Report between February 2016 and May 2020 shows that employment scams are even riskier than previously reported; 19.2% of military spouses and 16.6% of veterans encountering the scam reported a financial loss, compared with 15.5% for non-military consumers. And for every person that reported losing money, at least another worked without pay, and yet another lost personal information that could lead to identity theft.

While the largest financial losses were reported by military spouses ($1,825) and veterans ($1,905), even service members reported much higher median losses ($1,680) than non-military consumers ($1,000). This likely correlates with the 28% of survey respondents stating that they were looking for flexible, “gig” type employment opportunities when they encountered the fraudulent job.

The study showed that prevention and intervention methods can reduce the likelihood of a financial loss. Those who heard of employment scams and tactics prior to the encounter were significantly less likely to lose money, which reinforces the need to continue outreach about these risky scams. In addition, respondents reported that interventions by bank tellers and retail employees were very helpful in convincing them to walk away before losing money; thirteen percent of survey respondents said an organization, company or agency employee tried to intervene and stop the scam – and 69% of the time, they were successful in their efforts.

For tips on how to avoid employment scams, visit

To read the Military Consumers and Marketplace Trust report, visit

To report a scam, go to

For more information about BBB’s Military and Veterans Initiative and consumer resources, visit more information or further inquiries, contact the Wisconsin BBB at, 414-847-6000 or 1-800-273-1002. Consumers also can find more information about how to protect themselves from scams by following the Wisconsin BBB on FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube.