Impersonation scams cost US victims over a billion dollars last year

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Money made from impersonation scams is worryingly high, costing victims in the US over $1bn throughout 2023, new research has claimed. 

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) revealed the figures in a new report, illustrating that such scams are costing the US triple what the amount recorded in 2020. 

Data collected by the organization shows that there were over 330,000 reports of scams impersonating businesses in 2023, and almost 160,000 impersonating government agencies. 

Changing tactics

Scammers also appear to be changing their tactics, with the FTC finding that fake phone calls are down on 2020 by a quarter, but they still remain the most popular vector. Meanwhile, reports of scams delivered via email are up from 32,000 in 2020 to 120,000 in 2023. Text scams have also more than doubled in the same period.

The FTC also notes that in these three years, "people reported skyrocketing losses through bank transfer and cryptocurrency." Scammers also appear to be increasingly taking on the personas of multiple organizations in a single scam. The FTC gives the example that "a fake Amazon employee might transfer you to a fake bank or even a fake FBI or FTC employee for fake help."

The FTC identified the top five most popular impersonation scam types, which account for over half nearly half of all reports in 2023. These include fake account security alerts, subscription renewals, and delivery issue scams. 

The other two are fake giveaways or discounts, and scams where a person is told their identity has been used to conduct criminal activity, such as money laundering or drug smuggling. They tell the victim to protect their money by transferring it to another account, fake gift cards or into bitcoin, which the scammers then steal.

The FTC concludes its report with advice to spot and avoid impersonation scams. This includes refraining from clicking on links, responding to unexpected messages, and moving money around. It also cautions of those that try to rush you to take action, as this is usually the behavior of scammers. 


Lewis Maddison
Staff Writer

Lewis Maddison is a Staff Writer at TechRadar Pro. His area of expertise is online security and protection, which includes tools and software such as password managers. 

His coverage also focuses on the usage habits of technology in both personal and professional settings - particularly its relation to social and cultural issues - and revels in uncovering stories that might not otherwise see the light of day.

He has a BA in Philosophy from the University of London, with a year spent studying abroad in the sunny climes of Malta.