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Americans Reported Losing a Record $10 Billion to Scams and Fraud in 2023

The cost of investment schemes, impostor scams and other fraud continues to soar


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AARP

Consumers reported losing $10 billion to scams and fraud in 2023, up from $9 billion the year before, according to newly released numbers from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The rising cost of these crimes is staggering, considering that in 2020 Americans lost only $3.5 billion to fraud, including identity theft.

The FTC received 2.6 million fraud reports last year, slightly up from 2022, with a median loss of $500. Nearly 100,000 people reported losing $10,000 or more. Some fraud proved much more lucrative for criminals than others, according to these new numbers, which are based on reports submitted to the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network directly by consumers or through law enforcement and other organizations. 

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Common scams

The most commonly reported schemes were impostor scams, online shopping scams and related scams; scams involving prizes, sweepstakes and lotteriesinvestment scams; and business and job opportunity scams — the same lineup as last year.

The FTC received 853,935 reports of impostor scams, with losses of $2.7 billion. In these disturbingly prevalent scams, criminals will pretend to be government officials, police, businesses like Amazon or Paypal, a relative in trouble, celebritybank or tech support professional.

Although investment scams were the fourth most reported kind of scam, victims in this category experienced the highest median losses — $7,700. And the cost of these scams is soaring, with $4.6 billion in reported losses last year, up from $3.8 billion in 2022 and $1.7 billion in 2021.

Age of victims

While a smaller percentage of older people report being victims of scams than younger people, they tend to lose far more money to these crimes: A median amount of more than $800 for victims in their 70s and $1,450 for those in their 80s, compared with about $480 for those in their 20s.

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Have you seen this scam?

  • Call the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline at 877-908-3360 or report it with the AARP Scam Tracking Map.  
  • Get Watchdog Alerts for tips on avoiding such scams.

These numbers, unfortunately, may only reveal a fraction of actual losses to fraud, which is notoriously underreported because victims may feel ashamed or doubt that authorities can help them. But reporting scams is crucial, experts say, allowing law enforcement to target its efforts and helping to reveal the full scope of the problem. (See below for information on where to report these crimes.)

Other report highlights

  • There were 1 million reports of identity theft last year; about 417,000 were related to credit card fraud. The FTC received 93,000 fraud complaints from people within the military community (veterans, military members and their spouses), almost half  of them — 42,766 — regarding impostor scams.
  • Fraud reportedly cost the military community $477 million in 2023, with a median loss of about $600 (higher than the general population).
  • Email was the most common way scammers approached their victims, followed by phone calls and texts. Social media platforms were also favored by criminals, with losses from fraud originating on social media reaching $1.4 billion — an increase of $250 million from 2022.  
  • Among those who reported losing money to a scam, the biggest losses were through bank transfers ($1.86 billion) and cryptocurrency ($1.41 billion).
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Where to report fraud

If you spot a scam or have been victim of one, report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at reportfraud.ftc.gov and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at IC3.gov. The more information they have, the better they can identify patterns, link cases and ultimately catch the criminals.   

The AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline, 877-908-3360, is a free resource; call to speak with trained fraud specialists who provide support and guidance on what to do next and how to avoid scams in the future. The AARP Fraud Watch Network also offers online group support sessions.

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