If you know someone who fell for an online scam last year, you’re far from alone. The FBI reports that Americans submitting incidents to the agency lost $10.3 billion to internet scams in 2022, a steep jump from $6.9 billion in 2021. While there were fewer complaints (800,944), certain ripoffs were still very problematic. Investment scams were the most common and costliest schemes. Related fraud losses jumped from nearly $1.5 billion in 2021 to $3.3 billion, and most of that value came from cryptocurrency scams — losses surged from $907 million to almost $2.6 billion in 2022.
There were some bright spots. While investment scams were the on the rise, ransomware complaints fell sharply. There were just 2,385 complaints about these digital extortion attempts versus 3,729 the year before, and they led to a relatively modest $34.3 million in losses. And while phishing was the most prevalent scam type with over 300,000 complaints, the damages were limited to $52.1 million.
The FBI warns that its figures don’t represent the entirety of online scams in the US. Not everyone who was the victim of a ransomware attack reported it to the bureau, Executive Assistant Director Timothy Langan says. However, he says the reports help law enforcement spot trends and otherwise deal with threats. The Investigators have better sense of what they need to address, even if they don’t have the full picture.