May 16, 2024 | Allison Robertson

The Top Financial Scams of 2023


How much did consumers lose to scams in 2023?

As scams become increasingly sophisticated, with all the tactics technology can offer, it is important to stay vigilant and aware of evolving threats.

By learning about past scams, we can hopefully be better prepared for future ones.

Financial Scams Of 2023 Split

Recent Data

In this article, we highlight the top scams of 2023 with financial statistics, most commonly used methods, real-life scam examples, and what to do in certain instances.

The following information has been provided by the FTC, and is up-to-date as of February 2024.

People's Hands Pointing to a Laptop with ChartsKampus Production, Pexels

Who is the FTC?

Every year, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)—a federal agency that enforces federal consumer protection laws that prevent fraud—shares information collected about scams reported by consumers.

Printed Document in Close-up.RDNE Stock project, Pexels

The FTC Data Book

Recent data from the FTC tells us that people lost a whopping $10 billion to scams in 2023 alone, which is $1 billion more than in 2022 and the highest reported losses to the FTC.

Woman is crying and counting money.Karolina Grabowska, Pexels

Financial Scam Stats

One in four people reported losing money to scams, with a median loss of $500 per person.

Report Chart on a ClipboardAntoni Shkraba, Pexels

Most Common Contact Method

E-mail was said to be the number one contact method for scammers in 2023, especially when scammers pretended to be a business of government agency.

There was a total of 358,000 reports of e-mail fraud in 2023.

The Kids of Helicopter ParentsFlickr, Nenad Stojkovic

Imposter Scams

Imposter scams remained the top fraud category, with reported losses of $2.7 billion. These scams include people pretending to be your bank’s fraud department, the government, a relative in distress, a well-known business, or a technical support expert.

Man Wearing Brown Leather Jacket Holding Smartphone.Enoch Patro, Pexels

Investment Scams

Investment scams came in fourth in terms of most-reported fraud categories, but losses in this category grew. People reported median losses of $7.7 thousand—up from $5 thousand in 2022.

Businessman giving contract to woman to sign.Andrea Piacquadio, Pexels

Social Media Scams

According to the FTC, scams that started on social media accounted for the highest total losses at $1.4 billion—an increase of 250 million from 2022.

My Date Turned Out To Be PsychoUnsplash, Elisa Ventur

Phone Scams

Scams that started by a phone call caused the highest per-person loss, with an average of $1,480.

Man at phone in officeAndrea Piacquadio, Pexels

Payment Methods

Most scammers preferred their victims pay through bank transfers and bank payments, which accounted for the highest losses ($1.86 billion).

Cryptocurrency came in second with $1.41 billion reported in losses, and wire transfers took third with $343.7 million losses.

Close-Up Shot of Two People Holding a Crypto Coin.RDNE Stock project, Pexels

Losses by Age

Of those who reported their age, younger adults between 20-29 years old reported losing money more often than older adults aged 70+.

However, when older adults lost money, they lost the most.

Sad girl with a laptopAndrea Piacquadio , Pexels

Top Five Categories

The top five fraud categories include:

  • Imposters
  • Online Shopping and Negative Reviews
  • Prizes, Sweepstakes, Lotteries
  • Investments
  • Business and Job Opportunities

Person Using Black And White Smartphone and holding a Card.PhotoMIX Company, Pexels

Other Common Scam Methods

Scammers today use various methods for reaching unsuspecting consumers. With technology evolving, there is numerous ways to scammers to reach out.

Text messages, phone calls, e-mails, social media direct messages are all common avenues for dishonest people.

A Man is making Online ShoppingKindel Media, Pexels

What To Watch For

The most common mistake people make is clicking links. Before you click any link, stop and look into it first.

Clicking a phishing link can transmit basic information like your location and device stats, redirect you to a fake website, or download malware.

A Man Using his Smart PhoneMizuno K, Pexels

When In Doubt, Call

If you are ever unsure of the legitimacy of an e-mail, message, or link—call the agency. Do not call the number in the e-mail. Use a search engine and find a credible source that provides a contact, and then call and ask if the message you received is indeed legitimate.

Senior man is talking on the telephone from the kitchen.Ron Lach , Pexels

Don’t Engage

Many people will receive random text messages, e-mails, or direct messages with general scam tactics. If you are aware that it is possibly a scam, simply do not engage.

Report it, and delete. Do not click links and do not message back.

DELETE button on laptop.Alexey Kuznetsov, Flickr

Protect Your Personal Information

Before you enter personal information on a website, email, or text chain, stop. Ask yourself: Why do they need this information? And what’s going to happen to it?

Also, remember to never share your Social Security number with someone who reaches out to you.

Man in suit is seating on his desk and thinking.Moose Photos, Pexels

Newer Scams

Specific scams that are becoming more popular in recent years include fake overdue toll charges and scammers looking to profit from Midwest tornadoes.

Be extra mindful when you are contacted regarding these topics.

Shocked man in office looking at his computerMelnikov Dmitriy, Shutterstock

Classic Scams

If you come across any of these typical pitch lines, be careful—there’s likely to be some element of a scam involved:

  • It’s your lucky day! You won!
  • Burn fat while you sleep!
  • Free cash grants! Never Repay!
  • This free seminar can change your life!
  • You won a free vacation!

shocked woman on phonefizkes, Shutterstock

Legitimate vs. Fake

Legitimate lotteries will never send winnings and ask someone to send part of it back in fees, and always be suspicious of anyone who says you’ve won a contest you don’t remember entering.

Close-up Photo of Lottery TicketWaldemar, Pexels

Bill Payment Scams

Some scammers will pretend to be a bill company looking for payment, such as medical bills or utility bills.

In fact, according to the FTC, a company called Doxo pretended to be an official payment site for big-name companies like AT&T, Spectrum, and Labcorp.

An Elderly Couple Making an Online Transaction over phone.SHVETS production, Pexels

Doxo Scams

Doxo used online ads that looked like they were from the companies, and even used company names as keywords so Doxo’s ads would show up in search results.

Illustrative Editorial of DOXO.COM website homepage

Doxo Scams: What Happened

People who paid their bills through Doxo often paid fees to Doxo on top of what they owed on the bill they were trying to pay.

And, in some cases, the actual company never received payment at all for the bill.

Sad couple watching the bills.Mikhail Nilov, Pexels

The Best Method to Pay Bills Online

The best place to find legitimate online payment options is the actual bill received from the company. Most times they will put the proper website or link where payment can be made.

A Man Looking at the White PaperMikhail Nilov, Pexels

Pay With a Credit Card

Online payments should be made using a credit card when at all possible. Credit cards offer the most protection against fraud, including the right to dispute charges if there are any problems.

Man in Gray Crew Neck T-shirt Holding a Credit CardRDNE Stock project, Pexels

Mystery Shopper Scams

A mystery shopper is someone who assesses their shopping experience by evaluating areas such as customer service, store presentation, product quality, and so on.

For someone looking for a job, mystery shopping can sound quite appealing—but its one of the top ways to get scammed.

Crop faceless woman using on laptop and smartphone at homeTeona Swift, Pexels

How Mystery Shopping Scams Work

In many mystery shopping scams, a scammer pretending to be from a well-known company “hires” you to be a mystery shopper.

They send you with a fake check and tell you to deposit it to buy gift cards from the store, and keep the rest as pay.

Man is holding a pay check in his hands and smiling at camera.Andrey_Popov, Shutterstock

How Mystery Shopping Scams Get You

Once you buy the gift cards, you are to send them the codes on the back. The scammer then gets the money you put on the cards, and the bank will come after you for the fake check you used.

Memorable TaxisFreepik, katemangostar

What To Watch For

Not all mystery shopper jobs are fake. But before you agree to anything, do your research first. Search online for the company, plus any reviews.

Never agree to deposit a check to buy gift cards and send the numbers on the back—this is almost always a scam.

Person Using Google Browser and Drinking Coffee.Firmbee.com, Pexels

How to Search Online to Double Check

If you come across something and are unsure if it is a scam, head over to an online search engine and start by searching the company name.

Add in key words like “review,” “complaint,” or “scam.” This may not be a perfect solution, but its important to see what other people are saying.

A Shocked Woman Holding a Laptop with SCAM sign.Nataliya Vaitkevich, Pexels

Don’t Believe Guarantees

Another very important thing to keep in mind is that scammers like to guarantee their victims of things. If anyone guarantees you’ll make lots of money, or you will receive something for your participation, think of it as a red flag.

Stop communication and do your research before proceeding.

Man Holding Paper MoneyTima Miroshnichenko, Pexels

Bottom Line

There are scams everywhere, in all forms. From fake checks and fake jobs, to government imposters and fake loan forgiveness, scammers are getting creative and putting a lot of effort into their deceitful games.

It’s important to always remain aware, and don’t be afraid to question things.

man in red shirt thinking somethingAndrea Piacquadio, Pexels

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