By Selen Ozturk

Feb 23, 2024

On Friday, February 9, the Federal Trade Commission released data showing that nationwide fraud losses topped $10 billion in 2023.

On Friday, February 9, the Federal Trade Commission released data showing that nationwide fraud losses topped $10 billion in 2023 — 14% more than 2022.

Nevertheless, the dramatic loss owes less to more reports than to more money being lost to each scam per these reports. At an Ethnic Media Services briefing that morning, FTC officials discussed new trends in top scams, and why learning about and reporting scams is so crucial to protecting consumers.

Top scams of 2023

Last year’s $10 billion in reported losses, compared to $9 billion in 2022, was an all-time first, “but the number of reports we received in 2023 did not increase dramatically,” said Maria Mayo, Acting Associate Director for the Division of Consumer Response and Operations in the FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection.

“One in four consumers reported losing money with a median loss of $500 per consumer,” she continued.

Research shows that less than 5% of consumer fraud victims report at all.

The most common scam category was imposters “pretending to be a trusted entity like a business, a government agency, a family member or a romantic interest”; number two was online shopping and negative reviews; three was prizes and lotteries; four was investments; and five was business and job opportunities.

Maria Mayo, Acting Associate Director for the Division of Consumer Response and Operations in the Bureau of Consumer Protection at the Federal Trade Commission, discusses the surprising amount of money lost to scammers in 2023.

The most commonly reported form of imposter scams were business imposters, with $752 million in losses last year.

Per one example, Mayo said, “A consumer gets what appears to be a banking alert about fraudulent activity with their account and is given a number to call. The call is transferred to a fake U.S. Marshal who tells the consumer their money is in danger because of a money laundering scheme. The consumer withdraws funds from their personal accounts and transfers them to a crypto wallet that the Marshal set up.”

Government imposter fraud was the second-most reported type of imposter scam — in fact, losses to FTC imposters skyrocketed from a median loss of $3,000 in 2019 to $7,000 in 2023.

While investment-related fraud was number four overall, it was the category where people reported the most losses: a total of $4.6 billion with a median loss of over $7,000 for these scams, which involve transferring money to people promising to teach them how to trade stocks.

For the first time ever, “email was the most reported contact method of scammers in 2023, Mayo said. “In 2022, text was number one, but before that phone calls were always number one.”

Nevertheless, people contacted by phone reported the highest median losses of $1,480, while those contacted through social media lost the most money overall, $1.4 billion.

Regarding common methods of payment, people who paid scammers by bank transfer reported losing $1.9 billion, while those who paid by cryptocurrency lost $1.4 billion.

AI scams

The FTC is increasingly worried about scammers using artificial intelligence to “turbo-charge fraud” through impersonation, said Lois Greisman, Associate Director of the FTC Division of Marketing Practices.

For instance, the scammer would get a voice clip of the victim’s aunt from social media and clone it to call the victim, saying that the aunt has “been in a terrible car accident, they’re in the hospital, there’s no insurance information, so they need you to wire thousands of dollars for life-saving surgery,” she explained.

Lois Greisman, Associate Director, Federal Trade Commission Division of Marketing Practices, Washington DC, explains how scammers are using AI technology to impersonate voices for the purposes of fraud.

Nor is AI limited to voice cloning scams, Greisman added, “but also seeping into scammers’ messages: “‘My crypto investment method works because I’ve trained the AI to beat the stock market’ — with all the hype around AI these days, that’s a very compelling claim to make.”

How, then, do you spot a scammer?

“One of the best ways is by what payment instrument they ask you to use,” said Greisman. “If they’re insisting on payment by wire transfer, gift card, payment apps or crypto, that’s a huge bright red flag … because it gives scammers the greatest measure of anonymity, and the likelihood of law enforcement being able to trace and return the money is extremely difficult.”

Why consumer reporting matters

Reporting scams like these to the FTC matters because the data helps nearly 3,000 state, federal, local law enforcement entities nationwide stop fraud, and because it helps prevention outreach, Greisman continued.

Larissa Bungo, Senior Attorney, Division of Consumer & Business Education at the Federal Trade Commission, Washington DC, discusses the resources you can find on the FTC website and the languages they are available in.

“When we see, for example, spikes in gift card scams, we reach out to the industry to see what they can be doing to curb abuse of cards,” she added. “When we see text messaging becoming a frequent point of contact, we reach out to the telecommunications industry.” 

People can now report frauds and bad business practices in their preferred language — and anonymously if they wish — by phone at 877-382-4357, or online in English or Spanish by going to or by emailing Identity theft can be reported in one’s preferred language at 877-438-4338, or in English or Spanish at

“To help people spot and avoid scams and identity theft and talk about what they experience, we offer information at” in languages including Amharic, Arabic, simplified and traditional Chinese, French, Mam, Korean, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Tagalog, Ukrainian and Vietnamese, added Larissa Bungo, Senior Attorney at the FTC Division of Consumer & Business Education.

“While scammers are really good at what they do, knowledge is power, and the best thing we can do is try to share what we know about spotting scams,” she said. “When people report fraud, they can share as much or little as they want to. We’re interested in knowing what happened. We want to know the story.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Skip to content