New numbers show the U.S. set a new record in money lost in scams.
More than $10 billion was stolen from the U.S. in 2022, which is up from nearly $7 billion in 2021. According to the data from the FBI and the FTC, the U.S. lost $3 billion to scams in 2018 – and that number tripled last year.
Ohio is 15th in the nation for most money lost to scams, losing $180 million, the data shows.
America is one of the most scammed countries in the world and a lot of the money is lost overseas, which makes it harder for authorities to retrieve, officials said.
“None of our law enforcement here has the ability to go outside of their jurisdiction and go try to make an attempt to retrieve those funds,” said Breanne McClellan, the co-founder of socialcatfish.com. “Once those funds are lost overseas, it’s very difficult to retrieve those funds back.”
Social Catfish uses reverse search technology to help prevent people from falling for online scams.
The FBI IC3 Recovery Asset Team was only able to retrieve 4.2% of the $10.3 billion lost. A quarter of all of the country’s losses were due to fake Crypto accounts, but McClellan said the most common scams are romance scams.
“A lot of the other scams are bundled into that,” she said. “So what the scammers will do is pull at the heartstrings, get them emotionally attached and then ask them to invest money in Crypto, or they’ll ask them to send them gift cards or PayPal.”
Christopher Maxwell is an expert in the business of scamming. He originally started scamming to help pay his way through college. He would target women who were recently divorced or widowed and would receive thousands of dollars per victim, he said.
“When I make them commit, you know, when someone is so committed to a new relationship, they can do this,” Maxwell said. “I made these women fall in love with me and by the end of the day, I would just ask them for money and they would give it to me.”
He stopped scamming in 2021 and now works with socialcatfish.com to identify scammers.
“When I see a picture, I can identify if it’s a scam,” Maxwell said. “That’s what I do.”
When trying to avoid online scams, officials reccomend the following:
- Avoid giving money to people you’ve never met in person.
- Confirm someone’s identity before getting invested with them.
- Stay away from invest and Crypto schemes by always checking with a trusted financial adviser.
McClellan said it’s important to keep a healthy skepticism when doing anything online.
“I recommend that, you know, people become a little bit more aware and educate themselves online before going out there and, you know, meeting new people or meeting a potential lover, anything like that,” McClellan said.
If you think you or a loved one has been involved in a scam, contact the Better Business Bureau. Report or look up a scam by visiting the BBB scam tracker.