WASHINGTON, D.C. February 6, 2023— Reports of scams tied to cryptocurrencies drove a significant increase in median losses in 2022, according to the National Consumers League’s annual Top Ten Scams report. The report, published annually, analyzed more than 3,500 consumer fraud complaints filed with NCL’s Fraud.org campaign last year.
The report found that the median loss for investment frauds reported to Fraud.org was $18,700, compared to $1,750 in 2021. The complaints in this category frequently described schemes where victims were encouraged to put money into cryptocurrencies and cryptocurrency-linked investments that later turned out to be fraudulent. Such scams drove an increase in the median loss for all frauds reported to Fraud.org to $950, an eleven-year high.
“Both median losses and the share of incidents reporting losses are up,” said John Breyault, NCL vice president of public policy, telecommunications, and fraud and the director of the Fraud.org campaign. “New technologies seem to be driving these trends, from crypto-related schemes to scammers using new technology to move victims’ money around.”
Bank account debit, which includes peer-to-peer platforms like Zelle and Venmo, was the second most frequently mentioned way that victims reported sending money to fraudsters in 2022 (27.17% of complaints that included a loss). Compare this to 2021 when bank account debit was mentioned in 11.2% of complaints that included a loss.
The top ten scam categories reported to Fraud.org in 2022 were:
- Prizes/Sweepstakes/Free Gifts
- Internet: General Merchandise
- Fake Check Scams
- Investments: Other (incl. cryptocurrency)
- Advance Fee Loans, Credit Arrangers
- Friendship & Sweetheart Swindles
- Family/ Friend Imposter
- Computers: Equipment/Software
“While we’re collecting data to better inform our efforts to combat fraud, we’re also aiding victims and connecting them with resources,” said NCL Consumer Services Coordinator James Perry. “It’s important to remember the person behind each report.”
Notably, the share of reports involving romance scams declined by 31%. This trend may be attributable to last year’s significant media coverage of this type of fraud following the success of fraud-focused shows like “The Tinder Swindler” and “Inventing Anna.”
“In real time, we are seeing the benefits of a national discussion around these types of fraud” said NCL Public Policy Manager Eden Iscil. “Having an open conversation about something as sensitive as romance scams helps to destigmatize the issue, provide space for victims to seek help, and put pressure on digital platforms to prevent misconduct.”
To view the full 2023 Top Ten Scams report, click here.
The National Consumers League Top Ten Scams report analyzed 3,503 complaints submitted by consumers to NCL’s Fraud.org campaign in 2022. This data is self-reported by victims and should not be considered a nationally representative sample. NCL shares complaint data with a network of law enforcement and consumer protection agency partners who combine it with other data sets to identify trends in fraud and build cases.
About the National Consumers League (NCL)
The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit nclnet.org.