The top 10 ways phone scammers swindled their victims in 2023

After analyzing more than 25 billion spam calls in 2023, fraud protection company Hiya shared a list of 10 scams most commonly used to lure unaware individuals.

Cybernews already reported that every fifth unknown call in the US is spam. Despite a meager success rate, millions fall victim to fraudsters due to the sheer volume of attempts. And scammers evolve constantly to find the most effective way to increase their bottom line.

Hiya shared the top 10 scams based on more than 25 billion spam calls in 39 countries in 2023:

10. Solar and energy. Elevated energy costs brought out scammers trying to cash in on people’s desperation to save on energy bills. Scam calls involving solar panel sales were the most common in this category. However, other victims also reported suspicious calls offering half-price energy bills, clean energy upgrades, government energy subsidies, and offers to conduct energy price comparisons.

9. Trading and investment scams (including cryptocurrency). While not the most common, investment scams account for some of the largest monetary losses among phone scams. Whether it’s stocks, real estate, or crypto, scammers lure victims with investments promising high returns, but they often lose much or all of the money they put in.

8. Tax scams. Scammers impersonate tax agents in many countries to obtain personal information. There are HMRC scams in the UK, IRS in the US, and CRA in Canada. Fraudsters usually state that the recipient owes unpaid taxes or that they qualify for government-sponsored tax relief. Seasonal scams increase in April, when the taxes are due, and begin declining in July.

7. Mobile phone provider impersonators. Scammers pretend to be agents from one of several major mobile phone providers and commonly offer a new phone upgrade or a special rate on a mobile phone contract. One version of this scam begins with a robocall that warns that mobile phone service will be cut off today and requests a call-back. Hiya noticed that some users report these as unwanted telemarketing calls, however, most report them as fraud, saying that the caller is trying to gather personal information.

6. Loan scams. Scammers offer fraudulent personal loans, business loans, home loans, car loans, government loans, pre-approved loans, and even student loan forgiveness. If the recipient falls for the scam, the fraudsters will inevitably require a lot of personal and financial information to process the loan.

5. Insurance scams. Often, scammers will use the name of a well-known insurance company to make the call more convincing. They may try to sell a bogus policy or fish for personal information such as a social security or bank account number. There are many types of insurance scams, such as auto insurance scams, life insurance scams, health insurance scams, and burial insurance scams.

4. Medicare scams. In the US, Medicare scams are a separate category from other insurance scams. The goal is to obtain the victim’s Medicare number so the scammers can falsely bill the US government for medical services never rendered. Medicare scams are also seasonal, peaking during open enrollment season, generally late October through early December.

3. Chinese language scams. Robocalls in Chinese usually inform the recipients that they have some kind of legal problems and that they need to speak to a representative of the Chinese Embassy, Chinese Consulate, local police, or other agencies. Victims are extorted by saying they are accused of some type of violation and must pay a fine immediately to avoid arrest.

2. Amazon impersonators. As Amazon is one of the world’s top retailers, fraudsters have a good random chance to reach someone with an Amazon account. It is usual for Amazon impersonators to say that they suspect an unauthorized purchase, and they need the victim’s Amazon account number and password to clear up the matter. Also fraudsters can say the credit card linked to the Amazon account no longer works, and ask to provide with a new credit card number.

1. Bank/credit card scams. Financial scams are common throughout the world, and bank and credit card scams top the list.

“A fraudster will call to explain that there’s a problem with your credit card or bank account, and they will help you correct the problem. You’ll need to give them your credit card or bank account number and possibly a PIN so they can reset your account,” Hiya’s report reads.

And there are many variations of these scams

AI scams are feared to become a trend in 2024. As Cybernews reported, Hiya’s researchers indicate that scammers can try to convince victims with voice-cloning technology, enabling scammers to generate audio in real-time without pre-recordings and adjusting scripts on the fly.

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