Mar 14, 2024 - News

Texans lost over $1 billion to internet scams in 2023

Illustration of a computer wearing a bandit's mask.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Texans lost over $1 billion to internet scams last year, ranking second behind California in cases reported to the FBI and tracking with population size.

The big picture: Americans lost over $12.5 billion to cybercriminals in 2023, according to new FBI data.

  • Investment fraud was the costliest cybercrime reported nationally, jumping 28% since 2022.
  • Americans also lost roughly $1.3 billion in 2023 to scammers pretending to be from the government or tech support, the FBI says.
Data: FBI Internet Crime Report 2023; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: FBI Internet Crime Report 2023; Chart: Axios Visuals

How it works: Scammers pretend to be a government official, tech support agent or customer service representative to trick people into sending money or other sensitive information.

  • The impersonators typically call with fake stories that motivate someone to share their private identifiable details.
  • For example, a scammer might call to say someone will lose their Medicare benefits if they don't pay a new fee. Or they might claim there's a virus on their computer that requires the victim to buy a special tool.

Zoom in: The FBI received 47,305 complaints from Texans last year.

  • In January, the Dallas County sheriff's department warned residents of callers trying to collect money under the guise of outstanding warrants or missed jury duty.
  • "The Dallas County Sheriff's Department and Dallas County Jury Services will NOT ever call, text, or email you … Just hang up when they contact you," the sheriff's department said.

The intrigue: Impersonation scams have evolved from cold-calling telemarketing scams to online operations to lure people in.

  • Fake job offers are among the most prolific and fastest-growing scams in the U.S., with some scammers reaching out to people about freelance opportunities over text.

Reality check: People of all ages are susceptible to scams — not just the elderly. Only 40% of people who fell for tech support scams were reported to be over 60, according to the FBI.

Plus: Government organizations are susceptible.

The bottom line: The FBI data is based only on the cases reported to the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center.

  • Many victims won't call the police after a scam or cyberattack due to shame over falling for a ruse or fear of retaliation, but the FBI encourages reporting.
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