Business may be slow in many sectors of the economy but fraud is steaming right along, with consumers losing nearly $8.8 billion in 2022, a more than 30 percent increase over the previous year, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
Thanks perhaps to a slumping stock market and surging cybercurrency investments, consumers reported losing more money to investment scams—more than $3.8 billion—than any other category in 2022. That amount more than doubles the amount reported lost in 2021.
The second highest reported loss amount came from imposter scams, with losses of $2.6 billion reported, up from $2.4 billion in 2021.
2.4 million scam victims
The FTC received fraud reports from 2.4 million consumers last year, with the most commonly reported being imposter scams, followed by online shopping scams. Prizes, sweepstakes, and lotteries; investment related reports; and business and job opportunities rounded out the top five fraud categories.
The FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network is a database that receives reports directly from consumers, as well as from federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, the Better Business Bureau, industry members, and non-profit organizations. Twenty-three states contribute data to Sentinel.
Sentinel received more than 5.1 million reports in 2022; these include the fraud reports detailed above, as well as identity theft reports and complaints related to other consumer issues, such as problems with credit bureaus and banks and lenders. In 2022, there were over 1.1 million reports of identity theft received through the FTC’s IdentityTheft.gov website.
The FTC uses the reports it receives through the Sentinel network as the starting point for many of its law enforcement investigations, and the agency also shares these reports with approximately 2,800 federal, state, local, and international law enforcement professionals. While the FTC does not intervene in individual complaints, Sentinel reports are a vital part of the agency’s law enforcement mission.
A full breakdown of reports received in 2022 is now available on the FTC’s data analysis site at ftc.gov/exploredata. The data dashboards there breakdown the reports across a numbers of categories, including by state and metropolitan area, as well as exploring a number of subcategories of fraud reports.