Crypto scams soared by 53% in the U.S. last year

The dollar amounts are staggering.

According a new report According to the FBI, Internet financial crimes in the United States will reach $12.5 billion in 2023, an increase of 22% from the previous year.

The data was collected by the FBI. Internet Crime Reporting Center, which allows the public to report cybercrimes directly to the agency. It recorded 880,418 complaints in 2023, an increase of 10% compared to 2022.

The $12.5 billion losses, the FBI says, are “conservative” because many crimes go unreported.

"Today's cyber landscape is threatened by a multitude of malicious actors who have the tools to carry out large-scale fraud schemes, hold our money and data for ransom, and endanger our national security," says Timothy Langan, Deputy Director FBI executive. "Both for-profit cybercriminals and nation-state adversaries have the ability to paralyze entire school systems, police departments, healthcare facilities, and individual private sector entities."

The FBI found that the most frequently reported cybercrime in 2023 was the classic “phishing” scam, in which users receive unsolicited emails requesting personal and financial information. Other examples include personal data breaches, extortion, tech support scams, and non-payment or delivery of products.

But the most expensive crimes in dollars, and the fastest growing, are investment scams, specifically cryptocurrency fraud.

Investment fraud data for 2023. (FBI)

FBI data shows that investment fraud losses skyrocketed 38%, from $3.31 billion in 2022 to $4.57 billion in 2023. Cryptocurrency scams alone increased 53%, from $2.57 billion. dollars to 3.94 billion dollars.

in a March 2023 AlertThe FBI explained how these crimes usually unfold.

Criminals use fictitious identities to develop relationships and establish rapport with victims through social media platforms, dating apps, and professional networking sites.

"Once trust is established with victims, criminals introduce the topic of cryptocurrencies and claim to have experience or affiliation with experts who can help potential investors achieve financial success."

At that time, criminals often share information about fictitious profits and then convince them to invest through fraudulent websites or applications.

“It goes without saying, but I'll say it again: there are no sure things in the world of investing. Cryptocurrencies are a highly speculative investment that critics say has all the hallmarks of a Ponzi scheme,” says David Lazarus, consumer reporter for KTLA 5 News. “All potential investors should do their homework carefully before giving money to anyone. If you like crypto, check out an established exchange, not some guy you met on social media.”

California is the most populous state in the country, so it's no surprise that it also had the largest total cybercrime losses in 2023: $2.16 billion. Texas ($1.02 billion), Florida ($875 million), New York ($750 million) and New Jersey ($441 million) comprise the top five.

FBI complaints and losses
Charts showing the number of cybercrime reports and financial losses between 2019 and 2023. (FBI)

The FBI report explains not only the scope of the problem but also the agency's response. Through its Asset Recovery Team, the FBI says it has frozen funds from criminal organizations and returned hundreds of millions of dollars to victims.


  • If you are contacted by an unknown individual, do not disclose any financial or personally identifiable information, and do not send money.
  • Don't invest based solely on the advice of someone you meet online.
  • Confirm the validity of any investment opportunity or cryptocurrency investment website or application.
  • If you have already invested funds and believe you are a victim of a scheme, you do not have to pay additional fees or taxes to withdraw your money.
  • Do not pay for services that claim to be able to recover lost funds.

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