February 6, 2024
Media contact: National Consumers League – Melody Merin, email@example.com, 202-207-2831
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Cryptocurrency is being used in an increasing number of scams, leading to some of the highest median losses every reported to the National Consumers League (NCL). In its annual 2023 Top Ten Scams report, NCL found that the percentage of crypto-linked scam reports more than doubled year-over-year, making up almost 1-in-10 complaints received. The report, published annually, analyzed more than 2,700 consumer fraud complaints filed with NCL’s Fraud.org campaign last year.
The median loss for reported investment frauds, including cryptocurrency, ballooned to $20,000. Just two years prior, the number was $1,750. The complaints in this category frequently described schemes where victims were encouraged to put money into cryptocurrencies and cryptocurrency-linked investments that later turned out to be fraudulent.
“Year after year, complaints to Fraud.org paint a heartbreaking picture,” said NCL Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications, and Fraud John Breyault. “It is clear that the problem of fraud is not going away on its own. It is past time for policymakers at every level to take this issue seriously and do everything they can to crackdown on this epidemic.”
A record year for natural disasters appears to have been reflected in the numbers as well: reports of fake charity scams were up almost 200% compared to 2022. These complaints often involve fraudsters impersonating non-profit aid groups, particularly following crises like the wildfires in Maui.
The top ten scam categories reported to Fraud.org in 2023 were:
- Prizes/Sweepstakes/Free Gifts
- Internet: General Merchandise
- Investments: Other (incl. cryptocurrency)
- Fake Check Scams
- Advance Fee Loans, Credit Arrangers
- Friendship & Sweetheart Swindles
- Charitable Solicitations
- Family/Friend Imposter
- Home Repair
“Reporting fraud is an important step for victims,” said NCL Consumer Services Coordinator James Perry. “When someone reaches out, we can connect them with the right resources and begin to walk them through the recovery process. The information they share also helps inform decisions around fighting these scams.”
Scammers contacting victims through the internet and phone calls initiated three out of four fraud incidents, with the internet replacing phone calls as the number one method of contact in 2023. The Top Ten Scams report also showed a worrying trend in scams targeting young consumers. Compared to 2022, complaints from consumers aged 18-25 increased by 13.12%.
“The prevalence of scams online should worry everyone, especially as more of daily life becomes virtual,” said NCL Public Policy Manager Eden Iscil. “This is particularly troubling for younger individuals who we know statistically are more likely to become victims of fraud than any other age group. As consumers now grow up online, this problem will only get worse if we don’t dedicate resources to safeguarding our most vulnerable.”
To view the full 2023 Top Ten Scams report, click here.
The National Consumers League Top Ten Scams report analyzed 2,756 complaints submitted by consumers to NCL’s Fraud.org campaign in 2023. This data is self-reported by victims and should not be considered a nationally representative sample. NCL shares complaint data with a network of law enforcement and consumer protection agency partners who combine it with other data sets to identify trends in fraud and build cases.
About the National Consumers League (NCL)
The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit nclnet.org.