41 Need-to-Know Scam Statistics

As famous nineteenth-century German politician Otto von Bismarck put it:

 “With a gentleman, I am always a gentleman and a half, and with a fraud, I try to be a fraud and a half.” 

This just goes to show that there has always been fraud, and it’s probably fair to assume that there always will be. Looking at scam statistics can help us understand the different kinds of scams out there and protect ourselves. 

If anything, our growing reliance on the internet means that it is easier to both scam and be scammed. Unfortunately, despite a wealth of internet fraud statistics, most of us assume that we are safe. We believe that it will never happen to us because we’re too poor, not exciting enough, not worth the time. Or that our online security will be enough to protect us. We often fail to take notice of scamming statistics until the worst happens. 

Here’s the deal:

Below, you’ll learn more about some of the most popular kinds of scams, the countries that are most vulnerable to scams, and different ways that scamming could hurt you. Sometimes, just having more knowledge of what to look out for gives you a much greater chance to protect yourself.

  • In the US, one in ten adults will fall victim to a scam or fraud every year.
  • 1.3 million children have their identities stolen every year. 
  • You are more likely to become a victim of identity fraud by having your wallet snatched than you are via online fraud. 
  • When it comes to victims of doorstep fraud, 85% are over 65.
  • In 2018 internet-enabled theft, fraud, and exploitation were responsible for a  massive $2.7 billion in financial losses.
  • In 2019 phishing attempts grew by 65%.
  • 1 in 10 profiles on free dating sites is a scam.
  • In 2018 82% of organizations were victims of payment fraud.

Scam Victims Statistics

1. In the US, one in ten adults will fall victim to a scam or fraud every year.

(Business Insider)

According to the Federal Trade Commission, this number jumped by 34% in 2018, and the majority of these scams take place online. The prevalence of fake news is contributing to the rise, and people struggle more than ever to know who they can and can’t trust online. 

2. Around 50% of people contacted by a scammer engage with them. 

(Business Insider)

A study by Better Business Bureau, FINRA, and the Stanford Center for Longevity revealed that around 53% of all people scammers approach will engage, while the other 47% immediately wil become suspicious and ignore the approach. 

3. Of those engaged, 30% did not lose money, and 23% did. 

(Business Insider)

It’s unknown whether the 30% cottoned on to the scam, or something else went wrong before any money could change hands.

4. Of those approached by scammers on social media, 91% engaged, and 53% lost money. 

(Business Insider)

When we’re looking at fraud stats, social media becomes a concern. Our guard is often down when we’re using social media, as we feel surrounded by friends and family. This gives scammers an easy way in. 

5. 38% of people contacted by debt collection fraudsters engaged, and 12% lost money. 

(Business Insider)

When we’re in debt, we’re more likely to fall for a scam than at other times because we’re already worried about money and concerned about our financial situation, making us more vulnerable to attack. 

6. 1.3 Million children have their identities stolen every year. 

(Comparitech)

The growing number of children using the internet to play games, watch TV, and even make purchases, as well as young people with access to their own phones, in-app purchases, and social media, contribute to the rise in childhood identity theft.

Offline Scams

7. You are more likely to become an identity theft statistic by having your wallet stolen than you are via online fraud. 

(Comparitech)

Most of us assume that the majority of scams today are online. But, wallet theft, stealing bank statements, and other personal documents are still popular scams. You are also at risk of being scammed by someone that you know who has access to your personal information.  

8. 58% of scammers are using old-fashioned techniques.

(Citizens Advice)

Phone and postal scams are rife. Letters asking for money for services you haven’t received, and even letters claiming that you have won money and need to provide your bank details are common and often target the elderly above other demographics. 

9. When it comes to victims of doorstep fraud, 85% are over 65.

(Age UK)

Elderly scams statistics show that scammers target vulnerable, lonely people, who are more likely to let them in for a chat.

Identity Fraud Stats

10.  In 2018 identity fraud fell to 14.4 million.

(III)

This follows a record of 16.7 million in 2017. A move to chipped bank cards and contactless payments has contributed to this decline. 

But:

11. The cost of this fraud doubled from 2016 to 2018 to $1.7 billion.

(III)

This tells us that while fewer fell victim of identity fraud in 2018, many lost more money. 

12. Imposter scams accounted for $488 million in losses.

(III)

Imposter scams come in many varieties and can happen both online and offline. It’s basically an individual or company posing as someone else to trick people into giving them money. It’s a traditional type of fraud that has adapted to modern forms.

scam statistics - email

Types of Identity Theft

13. In 2018 there were 130,928 reported cases of credit card fraud on new accounts, which is 40.5% of the top 5.

(III)

Fraud on credit cards is someone stealing your card or card details to make purchases. It’s often more popular with brand new accounts and cards. 

14. Tax fraud made up 12% with 38,967 reported incidents. 

(III)

Tax fraud in the instance of identity theft is when a fraudster acquires your social security number and uses it to file a fraudulent tax return in the hope of tricking the IRS into paying them a refund. While this in the first instance takes money from the IRS, it can also be harmful to the person whose details have been used.

Income tax statistics indicate every 1 in 10 individuals suffer from tax fraud.

15. Cell telephone fraud accounted for 33,466 reports and made up 10.3% of the top 5. 

(III)

When we talk about identity theft, phone scams statistics include stealing your identity via your phone records or details. Or, someone using your phone details to pretend to be you in the interest of taking money from your providers and contacts. 

16. Credit card fraud—existing accounts were reported 32,329 times in 2018. 

(III)

Credit card fraud is significantly less prevalent on existing accounts. Sticking with the same accounts can be more costly when it comes to fees and repayments, but it can help you to avoid fraud. 

17. 87,765 reported other kinds of identity theft in 2018.

(III)

These other kinds of identity fraud include email and social media fraud, online shopping and payment account fraud, medical services, insurance, and other online services.

Internet Fraud Statistics

18. In 2018 internet-enabled theft, fraud, and exploitation were responsible for a  massive $2.7 billion in financial losses.

(FBI)

Internet fraud like this includes social media fraud, email scams, online shopping theft, online dating exploitation, and other online methods of exploitation. 

19. The FBI managed to recover 75% of the losses reported by businesses. 

(FBI)

The Recovery Asset Team, the FBI, and local financial institutions worked together with streamlined processes to recover around $192 million in losses reported by businesses.

Phishing Scam Statistics

20. Phishing attacks statistics show that 90% of data breaches are from phishing. 

(Retruster)

Online phishing involves sending emails pretending to be a reputable company or agency in order to try and obtain sensitive information like passwords and bank details. Charity scams statistics also show that phishers often pretend to be working for a charitable non-profit organization. 

21. 15% of phishing victims are targeted at least once more within a year of their initial attack. 

(Retruster)

Statistics on phishing attacks show that many victims are targeted more than once, often by the same fraudster. 

22. In 2019 phishing attempts have grown by 65%.

(Retruster)

The more of our data that is stored online, the easier it becomes for phishers to obtain enough information to pass themselves off as a company that we’ve previously had contact with. As we store more information online, we also become less concerned about what we share and with whom. 

23. Every month around 1.5 million new phishing sites are set up.

(Webroot)

Phishing sites are spoofed sites posing as real company websites in an attempt to trick you into entering your details. These sites often look legitimate and can be hard to spot. Check the web address bar for spelling mistakes, missing forward dashes, and other details that don’t seem right. 

If you are unsure, do a quick Google search for the company to see if their official site pops up as well and look at the list of scamming websites. If in doubt, enter an incorrect password and see what happens.

Catfishing Statistics

24. Over 53% of Americans fabricate part of their online dating profiles.

(Dating Advice)

Some of these fabrications are innocent. People often add an inch or two to their height. Others aren’t so innocent. Some catfish are attempting to cause emotional pain or get revenge. Others are seeking financial gain. 

25. 54% of online daters believe they’ve spotted a profile that is in some way insincere.

(Pew Research Center)

Perhaps we’re suspicious because we are lying about ourselves in some way on our profiles. Or, perhaps we’ve seen too many catfish. But, most online daters believe they’ve found a catfish online at some point. 

26. 28% of online daters have, at some point, felt uncomfortable. 

(Pew Research Center)

Some have received an initial message that hasn’t felt right. For others, it’s a message or phone call after a relationship has started to develop that has made them feel harassed, upset, or otherwise uncomfortable. Sometimes, this is someone using an aggressive tone, sending too many messages, or being inappropriate. On other occasions, it is being asked for money. 

27. 1 in 10 profiles on free dating sites is a scam.

(Phactual)

Around 10% of accounts on free sites are scams. Some are just fake profiles. Others are fraudsters looking to make money. This percentage is significantly lower on paid sites. 

28. 83 Million Facebook accounts are fake.

(SocialNewsDaily)

Dating sites aren’t the only places that you might find a catfish. Online dating scam statistics show that social media can also be dangerous when it comes to finding a date. 

29. In 2011, 5600 catfish scams were reported to the FBI.

(Mercury News)

Internet catfishing statistics show financial losses of more than $50 million.

Online Shopping Scam Statistics

30. The global ecommerce market is expected to hit $4.9 trillion by 2021, making up 17% of global consumer sales. 

(Beeketing)

The more that we shop online, the more we open ourselves up to becoming financial fraud statistics.

31. In 2018 82% of organizations were victims of payment fraud.

(Business 2 Community)

Most online shops, stores, and organizations have to deal with payment fraud at some point. 

32. In 2017 ecommerce fraud rose twice as much as ecommerce sales.

(Digital Commerce 360)

Fraud in 2017 was up 30% from 2016. This was mainly in shipping fraud, which is when a scammer uses their address to buy stolen goods online. Or billing fraud, which is when a victim’s address is tied to the payment method for stolen goods. 

33. Over a quarter of shoppers are victims of online shopping fraud attempts on Black Friday.

(This Is Money)

Fake websites and ecommerce stores are a growing cause of online shopping fraud. If prices seem too good to be true, the site doesn’t look professional, or you can’t find any returns information – think twice.

Scam Stats US

34. Americans are significantly more likely to be victims of identity theft than any other nationality. Over 791 million identities were stolen in the US in 2016.

(Comparitech)

When it comes to the top 10 scamming countries, ID theft statistics show America is nearly always at the top of the list.

This is the exact reason why federal law enforcement jobs are a necessity. Luckily, for all those wanting to join the force, we have tons of opportunities available on our website.

35. Older Americans lose an estimated $2.9 billion a year from scamming. 

(Senate Special Committee on Aging)

Older people are often more vulnerable, especially to online scams if they are unfamiliar with the technology or unaware of the risks.

36. More than 2.4 million Americans are targeted by people pretending to be from the IRS each year. 

(CNBC)

Generally, victims are threatened with arrest if they fail to pay back owed taxes. This can be a scary scam that many people fall for. Know that the IRS would never make threatening phone calls. Hang up, and call the IRS yourself if you have doubts. 

37. Employment scams are among the most effective, with 81% of people approached engaging with the scammers and 25% losing money. 

(Business Insider)

It’s easy to see why employment scams are so successful. Grifters pretend to offer a job before asking for personal details for their records. Only for the victim to later find out that there is no job.

Top Ten Scams

38. In 2018 there was a 10% rise in Phishing complaints.

(Fraud.org)

Year on year, phishing complaints rise, and it’s always high up in the top 10 scams. As the latest scamming format develops, phishing becomes more sophisticated and harder to spot. Putting far more of us at risk. 

39. There was a 25.25% growth in gift card fraud in 2018. 

(Fraud.org)

Fraudsters often demand gift cards and other alternative payment methods instead of cash or credit cards, which may be easier to trace. 

40. So far in 2019, there have been 563 reports of Nigerian scams with a loss of over $1million. 

(ScamWatch)

The scam involves a long and detailed email, often from someone claiming to have plenty of money that they cannot access. They might tell you that they are from a country that has recently been in the news and that civil war means that their money is tied up. Or, that they are due a large inheritance, but legal issues are preventing them from gaining access to the funds. They ask for short term financial help, promising you riches in reward. These are known as Nigerian scams because the first wave was mainly from Nigeria. 

41. 1 in 5 scam complaints come from someone over 65.

(CNBC)

When it comes to the top 10 scammers, you will always find senior scams. These are seen as a vulnerable group, easy to take advantage of. Other common scams include romance and friendship scams, fake software, online shopping, refund or return scams, tax fraud, typosquatting, social media scams, and text message frauds.

FAQ

Q: How much money is stolen through identity theft every year?

A: In 2018, the Federal Trade Commission dealt with  1.4 million fraud cases totaling $1.48 billion in losses. Worldwide the global average cost per data breach incident rose to $3.86 Million in 2018.

Q: What to do if a scammer calls you?

A: If we look at phishing statistics, we see that phishing phone scams are growing in popularity, even though fewer of us have landline phones and only around a quarter of us use our smartphones to make and receive phone calls. 

The best way to deal with scam phone numbers is to block them. Don’t answer calls if you don’t recognize the number and immediately block anyone that seems suspicious, after checking the scammer number database. 

But what about if you’ve already answered the phone? Modern phone scammers use local numbers to create a disguise, and it’s not always easy to recognize a scammer before any engagement. 

If anyone asks for a password or bank details, it’s a scam, so hang up. A real company would never use threats over the phone, so this should be another red flag. Asking questions can also help you to spot a fake. If you’ve got any doubts at all, hang up and try to call the company back on their official number or check the IRS scammer phone number list. 

Q: How do I report a phone scammer?

A: You might then decide that you should report your phone scammer, to stop them from threatening other, perhaps more vulnerable people. You can report scam numbers to your local police department, as well as letting the state consumer protection office know. If a scammer has been pretending to be a company or service provider, you might want to let them know too. 

Q: What country has the most identity theft?

A: In the US, around 45,000 identities were stolen every day in 2017, making the US the country with the most identity theft in the world. France comes in at number two.

Q: Why is it important to learn about scam stats?

A: Scamming is something that is all around us. If you are lucky, those scam emails will go straight to your junk mail, you’ll never be bothered by doorstep scammers, and other points on a list of scams will pass you by. 

But most of us aren’t so lucky. In our lifetimes, most of us will become one of many scam statistics. Or at least someone that is approached or targeted by a fraudster. 

When it comes to protecting yourself from scams (and many other crimes for that matter), knowledge is crucial. 

Bottom line:

Understanding these scam statistics, which are taken from reliable and reputable sources, and knowing where the danger lies can help you to take appropriate steps to protect yourself. Hopefully, these scam facts will help you to be more alert and put measures in place to ensure that you never lose money to fraud. 

Sources: