Highlights in this article:
Americans lost a record-breaking $8.8 billion to scams in 2022, with investment scams and impostor scams being the most prevalent.
Investment scams resulted in over $3.8 billion in losses, with a median loss of $7,144 per victim, double the amount lost in 2021.
Impostor scams led to $2.6 billion in losses, with a median loss of $995 per person, with criminals posing as government officials, family members, or utility company representatives.
Scammers took advantage of the pandemic and rising interest in cryptocurrency to deceive individuals into handing over their money.
Impostor scams prey on the emotions of victims, often using fear or urgency to pressure them into making decisions they later regret.
Protecting oneself from scams involves being vigilant and reporting any suspicious activity to the relevant authorities.
The year 2022 was a record-breaking year for scams in the United States, with Americans losing a staggering $8.8 billion to various forms of fraudulent schemes. The majority of these losses were due to investment scams, which totaled over $3.8 billion, more than double the amount lost to such schemes in 2021. The median loss per victim was a staggering $7,144, highlighting the significant financial impact these scams have on individuals.
Unfortunately, investment scams are not a new phenomenon in the United States. These types of scams often involve individuals being contacted by a person who presents themselves as a financial advisor or broker, promising high returns on their investments. Victims are typically asked to invest in products that are not legitimate or are overvalued, resulting in significant losses.
What made 2022 different was the scale of the problem. Scammers were able to take advantage of the uncertainty caused by the pandemic, as well as the rising interest in cryptocurrency and other high-risk investments, to deceive people into handing over their hard-earned money. Many victims were attracted by the prospect of quick and easy returns, not realizing that they were being taken for a ride.
In addition to investment scams, impostor scams were also a significant problem in 2022. These types of scams involve criminals posing as someone you would trust, such as a government official, family member, or utility company representative. Victims reported losses of $2.6 billion, with a median loss of $995 per person.
One of the reasons why impostor scams are so effective is that they often prey on the emotions of their victims. For example, scammers posing as government officials may claim that you owe back taxes or threaten legal action if you don't comply with their demands. Victims who are unaware of the nuances of these types of situations may feel pressured to act quickly, leading them to make decisions that they later regret.
Many of these scams are carried out via email, text messages, or social media, making it difficult for victims to know who they are really dealing with. In some cases, scammers will use fake websites or phone numbers to make it appear as though they are legitimate businesses or organizations.
So, what can you do to protect yourself from scams? The first step is to be aware of the signs of a potential scam. For example, if someone is promising you high returns on your investment with little risk, it is probably too good to be true. Similarly, if you receive a call or email from someone claiming to be from the government or a utility company, be sure to verify their identity before sharing any personal information or sending money.
It is also important to remember that legitimate businesses and organizations will never ask you to provide sensitive information, such as your Social Security number or bank account details, via email or text message. If you receive a request like this, it is likely a scam.
If you do fall victim to a scam, it is important to report it to the relevant authorities as soon as possible. This not only helps to protect you but can also prevent others from being taken in by the same scam. You can report scams to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or your local law enforcement agency.