How Much Do Scam Text Messages Cost Americans?

According to data from the Federal Trade Commission, scam text messages cost Americans a total of $9 billion in 2022.

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For most people, who can detect scam texts from a distance, they are an annoyance, but there can be serious consequences if you fall for them. These scams typically end up going after sensitive banking information, identity theft, and real financial consequences.

Investigators from the Sub-Directorate for Combating Irregular Migration arrested French police officers involved in a massive forgery scam.

Marcus Lu of Visual Capitalist illustrates how much money Americans lost in 2022 as a result of scam SMS messages. These numbers originate from Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reports that may be viewed on USA Facts.

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Ranked: Type of Text Message Scams by Cost to Americans

The most profitable category of text message scams is related to investments and investment advice; in 2022, these frauds cost Americans around $150 million. It’s interesting to note that they are among the least documented, with less than 6,000 complaints submitted; hence, the cost per fraud is significantly higher than in other categories.

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Scams involving individuals imitating corporations rank second by a significant margin, deceiving Americans out of around $35 million in 2022 and accounting for over one-third of all fraud reports.

However, according to the research, “Romance” scammers take money as well as hearts—nearly $34 million. One frequent tactic they employ is using a range of technologies to create virtual identities, identifying possible victims on dating apps, and then coercing individuals into disclosing personal information. The most common lines these con artists use to infiltrate the lives of gullible people are so well-documented by the FTC that a whole page is devoted to them.

The remaining four top five frauds by cost to Americans include employment scams and government imposters, at about $16 million and $10 million, respectively.

All told, fraudsters stole $9 billion from Americans in 2022. This amount included losses from text messages, phone calls, emails, and social media scams. In 2022, there were 22% of fraud reports (329,599 total) involved text messaging, and 6% of these schemes resulted in financial loss.

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