Scammers stole record $4.2 billion in 2020: report

Scammers stole record $4.2 billion in 2020: report
© Getty Images

Scammers stole at least $4.2 billion from individuals in 2020, more than half of the amount stolen over the previous three years, according to a new report analyzing federal data.

Identity verification website Social Catfish noted in its report that the $4.2 billion reported lost due to online scams in 2020 compares to $7.6 billion collectively lost between 2017 and 2019.

Last year's figure was included in a 2020 internet crime report released by the FBI in March.


Social Catfish noted in its report released Monday that some individuals may also be too ashamed to file a report about being scammed online.

Citing a survey sent to 722 users and members of a Facebook group who reported being scammed, the site said nearly three-quarters of respondents were "too ashamed to file a report."

"Scammers create a variety of tricks to scam people out of their hard-earned money. They create fake profiles and go onto social media platforms, dating sites, and online gaming apps to start conversations with their victims. They use a pre-made script to talk to their victims called the scammer’s playbook," the site said in its report.

"These victims have no idea that they are talking to a scammer and think that they are talking to the person in the photos. Then, the scammers come up with excuses as to why they might need your money or even other things of value, such as gift cards or cell phones."

According to the FBI’s March report, California saw the largest number of victims of any state, with 69,541 people reporting losses due to online scams. Florida placed second, with 53,793 victims reporting losses, and Texas came in third with 38,640 victims. 

California also saw the highest total amount lost out of any state, at over $621 million, followed by New York at nearly $416 million and Texas at $313 million.

Those surveyed by Social Catfish reported being scammed on Facebook the most, followed by Google Hangouts, Instagram and WhatsApp.