Cryptocurrency Dominates Fastest-Growing Fraud Complaints

Older clients often are targets of fraud and scammers are getting better at extracting more money from victims, says a new report.

Older clients often are targets of fraud and scammers are getting better at extracting more money from victims.

In a report released Feb. 1, 2022, the National Consumer League found that the median fraud loss hit a 10-year high of $800 in 2021.

The median loss by victims was up $150 in 2021, according to the organization’s annual Top Ten Scams Report. NCL, which runs, analyzed more than 4,300 complaints filed by consumers online, over the phone, and via postal mail.

“What this data tells us is that scammers are getting better at extracting more money from their victims,” said John Breyault, NCL vice president of public policy, telecommunications, and fraud and the director of the campaign, said in a press release. “We remain concerned that consumers facing economic difficulty and isolation from friends and loved ones due the pandemic are creating fertile ground for crooks.”

The top category last year was bogus prizes, sweepstakes and free gifts, making up one in three complaints. But the fastest-growing type of scam reported was investment related, particularly those involving cryptocurrencies. NCL said complaints about these scams more than doubled in 2021, up 168%.

Consumers most frequently told that fraudsters wanted their credit card information. However, complaints noting other payment methods such as gift cards, cryptocurrencies, and peer-to-peer payment apps continued to grow in popularity among scammers, NCL said.

“We hear heartbreaking stories from fraud victims nearly every day,” said James Perry, NCL’s consumer services coordinator. “While these statistics are sobering, behind each one of them are real people, some of whom have lost their life savings to criminals promising easy money to their victims.”

Top Scams Reported to in 2021

1. Prizes/Sweepstakes/Free Gifts
2. Internet: Gen Merchandise
3. Phishing/Spoofing
4. Fake Check Scams
5. Friendship & Sweetheart Swindles
6. Investments: Other (incl. cryptocurrency scams)
7. Advance Fee Loans, Credit Arrangers
8. Family/Friend Imposters
9. Computers: Equipment/Software (incl. tech support scams)
10. Scholarships/Grants


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