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By: AgFed Credit Union

Welcome to AgFed Credit Union's MoneyDig blog! 

Get confident about your personal finances with a number of articles, tips, advice and more.


The U.S. Is the Most Scammed Country In the World

 Jan 16, 2024
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A recent report by Social Catfish, an online investigation service, found that the U.S. is the most scammed country in the world. A staggering amount of money was lost to scams in 2022, and that number will likely continue to trend upward, thanks to newly available mediums for scammers, like artificial intelligence (AI). 

The good news is, with the right information, you can protect yourself from being part of next year’s scam statistics. 

Let’s take a look at some of the significant findings of the report, and how you can keep your money and your information safe. 

Who gets scammed the most?

With an astounding 466,501 online scams in 2022, the U.S. lead the world as the country with the most scam victims per year. The U.K., Canada, India and Australia follow as the respective second through fifth most-scammed countries across the globe. 

Of the 50 states, California had the most online scam victims in 2022, at 80,766, with an average of $24,921 lost per victim at a total loss of $2,012,806,866. Florida is next in line with 42,792 victims with an average loss per victim of $19,746. North Dakota takes the prize for the lowest number of scam victims, at just 703. It’s important to note that these are actual numbers and not percentages of each state’s population. Of course, more populated states, like California and Florida, have higher numbers of scam victims than more sparsely populated states, like Montana.

Among age groups, teens and children have seen the largest percentage increase in money lost. Victims in the under-20 age group lost $210 million in 2022, compared to $8.2 million in 2017. Seniors still hold the place as the most victimized group, though, with their overall losses totaling $3.1 billion. 

How much money was lost to scams in 2022?

A record $10.3 billion was lost to online scams in 2022, up from $6.9 billion in 2021. This represents an increase of 277% from $2.7 billion in 2017, according to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center. When including an estimate for unreported scam victims, the total money lost to online scams in 2022 jumps to a staggering $200 billion. In addition, the average loss per victim per incident was a whopping $12,859, which is up from $8,142 in 2021. 

The report also shows that 81% of romance scam victims do not come forward. As one of the most common scams, this means there are likely thousands more victims who are not part of the report.

Unfortunately, only 4.2% of stolen funds were recovered, the report shows. The FBI IC3 Recovery Asset Team was only able to recover $433 million of the $10.3 billion lost in 2022. This is largely due to the fact that the majority of scams originated out of the country and out of the jurisdiction of the FBI. 

Where are people getting scammed?

Social Catfish polled 5,500 online scam victims to identify the platforms and apps where people are getting scammed most often. The poll found that most online scams happen on Facebook (32%), Google Chat (16%), WhatsApp (16), Plenty of Fish (16%) and Instagram (14%). 

How to avoid scams

Keep your money and your information safe with these protective measures:

  • Keep the security on your devices at its strongest settings and updated with the most recent patches.
  • Never share personally identifiable information, including your Social Security number, banking details and credit card number, with an unverified contact. 
  • When interacting with a new online friend or love interest, perform a reverse photo search on any shared pics to verify their authenticity. 
  • Never click on embedded links or download attachments from emails sent by unknown contacts. 
  • Never wire money to an unverified contact. 
  • Use strong, unique and long passwords for each of your accounts. A password manager can help you generate and remember unbreakable passwords. 
  • Watch out for these red flags in websites, ads and emails: poor grammar and spelling, lack of a physical address and/or phone number, claims of being in the military and/or working overseas, demands to be paid by wire transfer, or in gift card or cryptocurrency and use of a URL that is very similar to a reputable company’s web address.
  • Report any scam and scam attempt to the FTC, IC3FBI and your financial institution.

The statistics on scams may be frightening, but you don’t have to be the next victim. Follow the tips outlined above to stay safe. 

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