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Infographic: The U.S. and Scams

The U.S. and Scams

If it seems like every single year, you’re hearing more and more about scams and fraud, you’re probably correct. In 2022, scammers broke the $10 billion mark for the first time ever. The amount of money lost by Americans to scammers has increased significantly over the past 5 years, rising from $2.7 billion in 2018 to $10.3 billion in 2022, and a new record high has been set every single year in that time. From 2021 to 2022 alone, the amount of money lost rose by over $3 billion. On an individual level, the average loss per victim jumped from $8,142 per incident in 2021 to $12,859 in 2022. In short, scammers are successfully targeting more people than ever before, and they are taking more money than ever before.

The United States is the most scammed country in the world, with a total of 466,501 online scam victims in 2022. The next highest country on the list is the United Kingdom with just under 285,000 scam victims – nearly 200,000 less than the US – and no other country reached even 6,000 victims in 2022. So, not only is the US the most scammed country in the world, but it also leads the pack by a considerable margin.

Only 4.2% of stolen funds were recovered in 2022 for several reasons. The biggest reason for this is that most scams originate from somewhere outside of the United States, so even if law enforcement is able to trace where the scam started, they have no jurisdiction. Even getting to that stage can be difficult given the anonymous identities and tools like IP spoofing that scammers use. However, another major reason that such a low percentage of funds lost to scams are recovered is that people do not report this activity nearly as often as you might think. Many people feel embarrassed that they fell for a scam, or they might think that their reporting won’t make any difference. For example, in 2022, 81% of romance scam victims did not come forward to report it. Reporting does have a big impact though – without accurate reporting, it becomes very difficult to put together comprehensive data and take the right actions. In fact, though the official number is $10.3 billion lost in 2022, due to the number of victims who did not come forward, estimates have put the actual amount lost closer to $200 billion. As you can see, that is a huge gap between what was reported and what authorities think happened, and increased reporting could help close that gap and give more accurate information to inform plans to counteract scammers.

Some additional interesting trends in the world of scammers and fraudsters that may help you avoid falling into a trap:

  • In the past 5 years, the amount of money lost by victims 20 years old and younger grew by nearly 2,500%. While that number dwarfs the 805% growth seen in the senior age demographic, seniors are still by far the most victimized group, losing $3.1 billion in 2022 compared to only $210 million for the 20 and younger demographic. Still, the trend in young people falling victim to scams goes to show how scammers are adapting and becoming more sophisticated.
  • A poll showed that the places where most online scams occur are:

    • Facebook – 32%
    • Google Hangouts – 16%
    • WhatsApp – 16%
    • Plenty of Fish – 16%
    • Instagram – 14%
  • AI has been all over the news in recent months, both for good and for bad reasons. One thing to be aware of is that alongside the benefits that AI can bring are potential dangers when it comes to scammers. Voice cloning and so called “deep fake” videos are only getting more and more convincing, making it that much more difficult to avoid fraudsters who will use this technology increasingly to their advantage.

The United States is the most scammed country on Earth, and living here makes it statistically more likely that you will be targeted by a scammer. Luckily, there are plenty of free resources available to help you avoid becoming a victim. Make sure that you’re up to date on the latest tips for keeping your finances secure and keep an eye out for any suspicious behavior!

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