BBB: Investment, cryptocurrency scams riskiest in 2023

Investment scams, including those involving cryptocurrency, are now the riskiest scam type, according to a new report from the Better Business Bureau. More than 80% of people who were targeted by this scam type reported losing money to BBB Scam Tracker. It also had the second highest median dollar loss at $3,800.

Investment scams take many forms, including pressure to purchase, trade, or store digital assets (cryptocurrency) with fraudulent exchanges. Investment and cryptocurrency scams both appeared on the list of 10 riskiest scams in 2023. This year, we combined them because most cryptocurrency scams involved some sort of investment opportunity.

Employment scam reports remained the second riskiest scam type in 2023. Reports increased 54.2% from the year before. Employment scams had a median dollar loss of $1,995, significantly higher than the overall median dollar loss of $100 reported for all scam types.

Online purchase (shopping) scams dropped from the riskiest scam type for the first time since 2019, landing at number three on the list.

This year, 41.9% of scams submitted to BBB Scam Tracker were online purchase scams, and 82.6% reported losing money.

“Investment and cryptocurrency scams had a significant impact in 2023, particularly for people 45 and older,” said Melissa Lanning Trumpower, executive director of the BBB Institute for Marketplace Trust, which produced the 2023 BBB Scam Tracker Risk Report.

“People should always beware of opportunities that sound too good to be true. No investment opportunity will come with zero risk.”

Key findings of the report include:

● Scams perpetrated online continued to grow, making up 68.4% of all reports. More concerning, online scams were more likely to result in a reported monetary loss than scams perpetrated in person or via phone.

● Overall reported susceptibility (the percentage of reports with a monetary loss) rose 27.8% from 2022 to 2023. Overall reported median dollar loss fell 41.5%.

● For the second year in a row, people ages 18-24 reported the highest median dollar loss of all age groups ($155).

● The percentage of people who reported engaging with a scammer via social media rose 63.8% from 2022 to 2023.

● Credit cards remained the most reported payment method with a monetary loss, followed by bank account debit and online payment system. Reports of bank account debit with a monetary loss increased 66.4%.

● Employment scams were No. 1 riskiest for ages 18-44. Investment/cryptocurrency scams were No. 1 riskiest for ages 45+.

● According to the survey research, people between the ages of 18 and 44 named anxiety/stress as the number one emotion they felt after being targeted by a scam, while people 45+ cited anger as the number one emotion.

The five most impersonated organizations reported to BBB Scam Tracker in 2023:

● U.S. Postal Service;

● Amazon;

● Publishers Clearing House;

● Geek Squad; and

● Norton.

For more highlights from the 2023 BBB Scam Tracker Risk Report, visit BBBMarketplaceTrust.org/RiskReport. Go to BBB.org/ScamTracker to report a scam, learn more about other risky scams on BBB.org/ScamTips.