2023 fraud trends show huge losses to crypto, increased incidents of charity scams

Fraud.org’s annual Top Ten Scams report for 2023 is out. Investment scams, including crypto fraud, continued last year’s trajectory and reached $20,000 in median losses. Two years earlier, that number was $1,750. Additionally, fraudsters seem to have capitalized on the record-breaking natural disasters, with reports of charity scams up almost 200%. The full Top Ten Scams report for 2023 can be found here. 

Top Ten Scams of 2023 

  1. Prizes/Sweepstakes/Free Gifts   
  2. Internet General Merchandise   
  3. Phishing/Spoofing   
  4. Investments (including cryptocurrency)  
  5. Fake Check Scams  
  6. Advance Fee Loans, Credit Arrangers   
  7. Friendship & Sweetheart Swindles   
  8. Charitable Solicitations  
  9. Family/Friend Imposter   
  10. Home Repair 

Sweepstake scams were the #1 reported fraud category in 2023, making up 29% of complaints. These crimes involve making victims believe that they won a prize or other reward, but in order to claim their winnings, they must first send the fraudster money. Victims usually never receive their prize, just more demands for payment. With a median loss of $1,000, this category’s share of reports received decreased year-over-year, likely due to the growing number of crypto-related complaints. 

Cryptocurrency scams are placed within Fraud.org’s investment scam category. With a 152% increase from last year, investment fraud has now reached a record high as the fourth most commonly reported scam. Steadily rising each year for the past few years, this category includes incidents where victims are deceived into believing they are purchasing legitimate cryptocurrencies for themselves. Instead, they either purchase nonexistent, bogus currency or they deposit their cash directly into a fraudster’s crypto wallet, believing it’s their own. 

A nearly 200% increase in charity scams caught our attention—the only category to exceed investment fraud in its year-over-year growth. As climate-related disasters have increased in frequency and severity, scammers will continue to find opportunities to exploit well-meaning victims. Typically, fraudsters solicit donations, claiming to deliver aid to impacted individuals. These frauds can take advantage of recent disasters or focus on aiding specific populations, such as veterans or persons experiencing financial hardship. They may also impersonate legitimate charities.  

Tips to guard against fraud 

  • Be cautious of strangers asking for money. Particularly those offering a prize, grant, award, or job opportunity. More information on sweepstakes and prize scams can be found here. 
  • Avoid cryptocurrency. As a legitimate investment vehicle, crypto is extremely risky. Its environmental impacts are much worse compared to other investment options. And of course, it’s rife with fraudsters looking to take advantage of the public’s unfamiliarity. More information on crypto fraud can be found here. 
  • Verify that the charity is legitimate before donating. The IRS’ tax exempt organization search and charitynavigator.org are two resources to check if the solicitor is registered as an official non-profit and view other metrics of trustworthiness. More information on charity scams can be found here.