1 in 4 Americans lost money to a scam last year – here are the top schemes

Americans lost $10 billion to scams in 2023, according to the Federal Trade Commission – which shared the most-reported schemes with the agency. 

One in four people reported losing money to a scam, with a median loss of $500 per person, the FTC said. 

Email was the most popular contact method for scammers last year, particularly when bad actors "pretended to be a business or government agency to steal money," the agency said.

The FTC said 2023 was the "highest-ever in reported losses," despite the number of reports (2.6 million) being about the same as the previous year. 

The top scams of 2023, according to the FTC

Imposter scams remained the top fraud category last year, with reported losses of $2.7 billion, the FTC said. 

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, the agency added.

Meanwhile, investment-related scams were the fourth most-reported fraud category, and losses in this category grew last year, the FTC said. People reported median losses of $7,700, which was up from $5,000 in 2022.

  1. Imposters
  2. Online shopping and negative reviews
  3. Prizes, sweepstakes, lotteries
  4. Investments
  5. Business and job opportunities

Top US states for scams in 2023

FILE - A credit card is held next to the keyboard of a laptop. (Photo by Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images)

FILE - A credit card is held next to the keyboard of a laptop. (Photo by Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images)

The U.S. states with the highest per capita rates of reported fraud in 2023 were Georgia, Florida, Nevada, Delaware, and Maryland, the FTC said. 

For reported identity theft, the top states in 2023 were Georgia, Florida, Nevada, Connecticut, and Delaware, the agency added.

Other takeaways: Social media, payment methods, and age

Scams starting on social media accounted for the highest total losses at $1.4 billion in 2023, the FTC said – noting this was an increase of $250 million from 2022.

However, scams that started with a phone call caused the highest per-person loss, with a $1,480 average loss.

Generally, scammers preferred people to pay with bank transfers and payments, which accounted for the highest losses at $1.86 billion in 2023, the FTC said. Cryptocurrency was a close second at $1.41 billion reported in losses.

Among the people who reported their age, younger adults (20-29) reported losing money more often than older adults (70+). However, when older adults lost money, they lost the most, the FTC said.

Anyone who has fallen victim to a scam can report it at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

This story was reported from Cincinnati.