Americans lost nearly $4 billion to investment scams in 2022

William S. | March 01, 2023

Over the past few years, investment scams have become increasingly sophisticated and widespread, taking advantage of the rise of digital technologies. These scams can take many forms, such as investment opportunities in day trading, art, rare coins, other investment products, or even companies offering investment advice or seminars.

According to data analyzed by the Atlas VPN team, Americans were scammed out of $3.8 billion through fraudulent investment opportunities. Compared to 2021, the amount of losses grew by 116%. Many of these scams use social media platforms, websites, apps, and other channels to reach potential victims.

The data is based on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) statistics about reported fraud cases in 2022. In this article, we will specifically focus on investment-related fraud reports, what contact and payment methods scammers used, and which states they targeted the most.

In the last 4 years, investment scams in the US grew by nearly 4000%. A few reasons for such growth are the increasing internet and social media use, which helped scammers find new ways to reach potential victims. Additionally, the rise of interest in crypto made people think they could get rich quickly by investing in it during economically unstable times.

In 2018, fraudsters stole $94.5 million using investment scams, and 8,392 (57% of all) fraud reports indicated a loss. By 2022, the number of reports increased significantly, with 77,599 reports (74% of all) revealing a loss of money in investment scams. These statistics show that the success rate of scams has also risen over the years.

Furthermore, scammers have been getting away with more and more money. In 2018, the median loss from investment scams was $2,262. Since then, it steadily grew from year to year, and in 2022, it reached $21,727. Investment-related scams have become more common, severe, and successful since 2018.

How do scammers contact you?

Some states experienced much more scams than others, and fraudsters used certain contact and payment methods more commonly. Understanding these trends can help individuals better protect themselves from investment scams and be more aware of the risks involved in investing.

Most commonly, scammers contact Americans through social media when offering investment opportunities. People reported 27,611 attempts of fraud through social media. The second most popular method is through various websites and apps, as people encountered 12,484 attempts of fraudulent investment opportunities.

By far, the most common payment method in such scams was cryptocurrencies. People lost over $880 million worth of crypto throughout 30,162 reported investment fraud cases. Cryptocurrencies' anonymity and decentralization make it easy for cybercriminals to engage in crypto scams, as tracking and recovering stolen funds can be difficult.

Another vital statistic is that Nevada was the most common target of scammers. Nevadans reported 316.5 investment-related scams per million population. Californians were second with 272.7 reports per million population. Finally, Washington citizens reported 263.2 investment-related scams per million population.

Overall, investment scams have grown significantly due to various factors, including technological advancements, economic instability, and the increased sophistication of scammers. Individuals need to be aware of these risks and take steps to protect themselves from such scams.

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