The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) keeps track of scams that are reported to it and summarizes those scams in a report outlining the most successful scams of the prior year.

Last year’s statistics are disturbing, as many of the same techniques from previous years are still being used successfully by threat actors. Old scams are continuing to be profitable for fraudsters, as the amount of money scammers obtained from victims last year was the most reported to the FTC ever. That amount is $10 billion, which is a whopping $1 billion more than in 2023.

The Data Book, as the FTC calls it, found that “email was the #1 contact method for scammers this year, especially when scammers pretended to be a business or government agency to steal money.”

According to the report, here are other takeaways for 2023:

Imposter scams. Imposter scams remained the top fraud category, with reported losses of $2.7 billion. These scams include people pretending to be your bank’s fraud department, the government, a relative in distress, a well-known business, or a technical support expert.

Investment scams. While investment-related scams were the fourth most reported fraud category, losses in this category grew. People reported median losses of $7.7K – up from $5K in 2022.

Social media scams. Scams starting on social media accounted for the highest total losses at $1.4 billion – an increase of 250 million from 2022. But scams that started with a phone call caused the highest per-person loss ($1,480 average loss).

Payment methods. How did scammers prefer that people pay? With bank transfers and payments, which accounted for the highest losses ($1.86 billion). Cryptocurrency is a close second ($1.41 billion reported in losses).

Losses by age. Of people who reported their age, younger adults (20-29) reported losing money more often than older adults (70+). However, when older adults lost money, they lost the most.

The Data Book provides a sobering look at victims’ losses and is a document that everyone can learn from, no matter your age.

Photo of Linn Foster Freedman Linn Foster Freedman

Linn Freedman practices in data privacy and security law, cybersecurity, and complex litigation. She is a member of the Business Litigation Group and the Financial Services Cyber-Compliance Team, and chair’s the firm’s Data Privacy and Security Team. Linn focuses her practice on…

Linn Freedman practices in data privacy and security law, cybersecurity, and complex litigation. She is a member of the Business Litigation Group and the Financial Services Cyber-Compliance Team, and chair’s the firm’s Data Privacy and Security Team. Linn focuses her practice on compliance with all state and federal privacy and security laws and regulations. She counsels a range of public and private clients from industries such as construction, education, health care, insurance, manufacturing, real estate, utilities and critical infrastructure, marine and charitable organizations, on state and federal data privacy and security investigations, as well as emergency data breach response and mitigation. Linn is an Adjunct Professor of the Practice of Cybersecurity at Brown University and an Adjunct Professor of Law at Roger Williams University School of Law.  Prior to joining the firm, Linn served as assistant attorney general and deputy chief of the Civil Division of the Attorney General’s Office for the State of Rhode Island. She earned her J.D. from Loyola University School of Law and her B.A., with honors, in American Studies from Newcomb College of Tulane University. She is admitted to practice law in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Read her full rc.com bio here.