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These were the main fraud categories of 2021


Fraud is on the rise, with 5.7 million victims filing reports in 2021 and losing over $5.8 billion, according to the latest FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book. But while fraud is a rather general term, it encompasses a wide variety of cybercrimes - from investment to imposter and business scams.

The average amount of money lost to fraudsters in 2021 was $500. Out of all different types of reported fraud, the highest losses were observed in investment-related scams ($3,000), foreign money offers and counterfeit check scams ($2,000), as well as business and job opportunities scams ($1,991).

The amount lost was also associated with the chosen transaction type. As such, the highest values related to bank transfers ($756 million), followed by cryptocurrency ($750 million). Credit cards were not associated with such big monetary transactions ($181M) but were most commonly used, similar to payment apps and debit cards.

Telephone was the preferred method of communication for threat actors in 36% of the cases. In those incidents, only 9% of victims reported a financial loss, but the median amount was higher - at $1,200, totaling almost $692 million. Text and email were the second and third most popular contact options, resulting in a monetary loss in 4% and 14% of the cases respectively.

Out of those who chose to disclose their age, people between the ages of 20-29 lost money to fraud most often (41% of the cases.) They were followed by those between 70 – 79 (18%), and 80 and over (17%). However, the highest values lost were observed in the 70+ age group.

Sentinel received more than 984,000 imposter scam reports, with 17% resulting in a dollar loss. Overall, victims lost $2.3 billion to imposter scams in 2021.

“These scams include, for example, romance scams, people falsely claiming to be the government, a relative in distress, a well-known business, or a technical support expert, to get a consumer’s money,” the report reads.

Identity theft was also extremely widespread, with government documents or benefits fraud topping the list. The FTC registered 395,948 reports related to fraudulent applications for state benefits via misused documents. This category was closely followed by credit card fraud (389,737) and loan or lease fraud (197,914).

The most frauds per capita were recorded in the following US states: Georgia, Maryland, Delaware, Nevada, and Florida. The most identity thefts per capita happened in Rhode Island, Kansas, Illinois, Louisiana, and Georgia.

The report details the following most popular categories of fraud in 2021:

  1. Imposter scams – 44,039 reports
  2. Online shopping and negative reviews – 18,314 reports
  3. Prizes, sweepstakes and lotteries – 5,201 reports
  4. Business and job opportunities – 4,563 reports
  5. Investment-related – 3,089 reports
  6. Foreign money offers and fake check scams – 2,447 reports
  7. Telephone and mobile services – 2,304 reports
  8. Internet services – 1,778 reports
  9. Healthcare – 1,768 reports
  10. Mortgage foreclosure relief and debt management – 1,257 reports

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