(Last Updated On: August 17, 2021)

2020 ScamsScams A Scam is a confidence trick - a crime -  is an attempt to defraud a person or group after first gaining their trust through deception. Scams or confidence tricks exploit victims using their credulity, naïveté, compassion, vanity, irresponsibility, or greed and exploiting that. Researchers have defined confidence tricks as "a distinctive species of fraudulent conduct ... intending to further voluntary exchanges that are not mutually beneficial", as they "benefit con operators ('con men' - criminals) at the expense of their victims (the 'marks')". A scam is a crime even if no money was lost. Hit New Records – Millions More Victims

New Data Shows 2020 Was a Pandemic In Scams

A SCARSSCARS SCARS - Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc. A government registered crime victims' assistance & crime prevention nonprofit organization based in Miami, Florida, U.S.A. SCARS supports the victims of scams worldwide and through its partners in more than 60 countries around the world. Incorporated in 2015, its team has 30 years of continuous experience educating and supporting scam victims. Visit www.AgainstScams.org to learn more about SCARS. Special Report

2020 Was The Year Scams Exploded Everywhere!

Of Course, It Was Because Of The Pandemic!

People are isolated. Shut-in and alone. Limited casual interaction. All of these are a breeding ground for scammerScammer A Scammer or Fraudster is someone that engages in deception to obtain money or achieve another objective. They are criminals that attempt to deceive a victim into sending more or performing some other activity that benefits the scammer. opportunities. And scammers were ready to capitalize on it.

Some reports from Nigeria indicate that the outflow of foreign currency was the greatest of any year in history! Planeloads of cash leaving the country for other countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. North Korea, Iran, the Middle East, and everywhere else have large populations of operating scammers!

However, the problem of getting real hard data is that so few victims ever report these crimes. There are now strong indicators that less than 1% of the victims in 2020 have reported these crimes. It is especially bad with people under the age of 40 who cannot be bothers to report these crimes to their police. The result is they are wilfully supporting these criminals through their omission.

According to many sources, 2020 was a record year!

  • Brazilian media reports that there were 5 million WhatsApp scams in Brazil alone
  • Multiple sources report that scams in the United States rose to 30 million new victims in just one year – up from an estimated 1 million in 2019 – a 3,000% increase
  • Cybersecurity industry data reports that all cybercrimeCybercrime Cybercrime is a crime related to technology, computers, and the Internet. Typical cybercrime are performed by a computer against a computer, or by a hacker using software to attack computers or networks. came in at nearly US$ trillion dollars for 2020 – a realistic number in the ballpark of most credible entity data
  • Even law enforcement reported record numbers of victims reporting, but still, it is a tiny fraction of the total scamScam A Scam is a confidence trick - a crime -  is an attempt to defraud a person or group after first gaining their trust through deception. Scams or confidence tricks exploit victims using their credulity, naïveté, compassion, vanity, irresponsibility, or greed and exploiting that. Researchers have defined confidence tricks as "a distinctive species of fraudulent conduct ... intending to further voluntary exchanges that are not mutually beneficial", as they "benefit con operators ('con men' - criminals) at the expense of their victims (the 'marks')". A scam is a crime even if no money was lost. victims
  • People ages 40 to 69 were once again the most likely to report losing money to romance scams
  • Losses to romance scams reached a record $304 million, up about 50% from 2019 – but we believe this to be 1% of the real numbers
  • Even the FTCFTC The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is an independent agency of the United States government whose principal mission is the enforcement of civil (non-criminal) U.S. antitrust law and the promotion of consumer protection. The FTC can also act as a clearinghouse for criminal reports sent to other agencies for investigation and prosecution. To learn more visit www.FTC.gov or to report fraud visit ReportFraud.FTC.gov admits that scam losses increased by 4,000% in one year!
  • People age 70 and older reported the highest individual median losses at $9,475.80 per victim
  • Use of gift cards as a payment mechanism increased by 70% per the FTC
  • Millennials continue to be the most scammed age group – they are scammed almost 20 times more than adults over 35
  • Worldwide it is estimated that there were over 50 million new scam victims – but this number may be just half of what it really is
  • The FBIFBI FBI - Federal Bureau of Investigation The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the domestic intelligence and security service of the United States and its principal federal law enforcement agency. Operating under the jurisdiction of the United States Department of Justice, the FBI is also a member of the U.S. Intelligence Community and reports to both the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence. A leading U.S. counter-terrorism, counterintelligence, and criminal investigative organization, the FBI has jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crimes, including financial fraud.’s Internet Crime Complaint Center has information from 791,790 complaints of suspected internet crime in 2020 — an increase of more than 300,000 complaints from 2019—and reported losses exceeding $4.2 billion. Assume this is 5% of the total – then that would be over 15 million new victims and over $85 billion dollars in losses. But 5% may be generous, it may be closer to 1% and that would be 75 million victims and $420 billion in losses which is probably closer to reality!

For Example:

Here is an article from the FTC this year about Romance Scams

Romance scams take record dollars in 2020

They say love hurts. With romance scams that’s doubly true – hearts are broken and wallets are emptied. For three years running, people have reported losing more money on romance scams than on any other fraudFraud In law, fraud is intentional deception to secure unfair or unlawful gain (money or other assets), or to deprive a victim of a legal right. Fraud can violate civil law (e.g., a fraud victim may sue the fraud perpetrator to avoid the fraud or recover monetary compensation) or criminal law (e.g., a fraud perpetrator may be prosecuted and imprisoned by governmental authorities), or it may cause no loss of money, property, or legal right but still be an element of another civil or criminal wrong. The purpose of fraud may be monetary gain or other benefits, for example by obtaining a passport, travel document, or driver's license, or mortgage fraud, where the perpetrator may attempt to qualify for a mortgage by way of false statements. A fraud can also be a hoax, which is a distinct concept that involves deliberate deception without the intention of gain or of materially damaging or depriving a victim. type identified in Sentinel.1 In 2020, reported losses to romance scams reached a record $304 million, up about 50% from 2019. For an individual, that meant a median dollar loss of $2,500. From 2016 to 2020, reported total dollar losses increased more than fourfold, and the number of reports nearly tripled.

It is reasonable to wonder: what happened in 2020 to make these dollars losses continue to spike? An obvious reason may be the pandemic limiting our ability to meet in person. But outside the pandemic, the share of people who have ever used an online dating site or app has also been rising. And romance scammers are primed to take advantage. Scammers fabricate attractive online profiles to draw people in, often lifting pictures from the web and using made up names. Some go a step further and assume the identities of real people. Once they make online contact, they make up reasons not to meet in person. The pandemic has both made that easier and inspired new twists to their stories, with many people reporting that their so-called suitor claimed to be unable to travel because of the pandemic. Some scammers have reportedly even canceled first date plans due to a supposed positive COVID-19 test.

While many people report losing money on romance scams that start on dating appsApps Applications or Apps An application (software), commonly referred to as an ‘app’ is a program on a computer, tablet, mobile phone or device. Apps are designed for specific tasks, including checking the weather, accessing the internet, looking at photos, playing media, mobile banking, etc. Many apps can access the internet if needed and can be downloaded (used) either for a price or for free. Apps are a major point of vulnerability on all devices. Some are designed to be malicious, such as logging keystrokes or activity, and others can even transport malware. Always be careful about any app you are thinking about installing., even more say they were targeted on social media. These social media users aren’t always looking for love, and report that the scam often starts with an unexpected friend request or message.

Sooner or later, these scammers always ask for money. They might say it’s for a phone card to keep chatting. Or they might claim it’s for a medical emergency, with COVID-19 often sprinkled into their tales of woe. The stories are endless, and can create a sense of urgency that pushes people to send money over and over again.

What many of the largest reported dollar losses have in common is that people believe their new partner has actually sent them a large sum of money. Scammers claim to have sent money for a cooked-up reason, and then have a detailed story about why the money needs to be sent back to them or on to someone else. People think they’re helping someone they care about, but they may actually be laundering stolen funds. In fact, many reported that the money they received and forwarded on turned out to be stolen unemployment benefits.

In 2020, reports of gift cards being used to send money to romance scammers increased by nearly 70%. Gift cards, along with wire transfers, are the most frequently reported payment methods for romance scams.5 People said they mailed the gift cards or gave the card’s PIN number to the scammer. The median amount people sent romance scammers in 2020 using any method of payment was $2,500, more than ten times the median loss across all other fraud types.6

Reports of money lost on romance scams increased for every age group in 2020. People ages 20 to 29 saw the most striking increase, with the number of reports more than doubling since 2019. People ages 40 to 69 were once again the most likely to report losing money to romance scams. And people 70 and older reported the highest individual median losses at $9,475.8

So how can you play it safe while looking for love online? Here are some tips to help you steer clear of scammers:

  • Never send money or gifts to someone you haven’t met in person – even if they send you money first.
  • Talk to someone you trust about this new love interest. It can be easy to miss things that don’t add up. So pay attention if your friends or family are concerned.
  • Take it slowly. Ask questions and look for inconsistent answers.
  • Try a reverse-image search of the profile pictures. If they’re associated with another name or with details that don’t match up, it’s a scam.

This is all well and good, but the government really does not know how to address this increasing plague, and the current administration has canceled presidential orders that applied to consumer protections from scams and are less focused now on these crimes. The current focus is more oriented towards federal computer systems and infrastructure – all worthy areas, but the public matters just as much. In fact, it took a massive lobbying effort by 1,700 nonprofits (including SCARS) to get congress to restore major cuts in victim assistance funding – fortunately, the VOCAfix campaign worked and the funding was restored.

Two Steps Forward

However, there is also good news!

It appears that the trend is slowing and the number of new victims in 2021 will be less. Maybe by as much as half!

In addition, scammer arrests are continuing to increase – except for the pandemic year 2020. For example:

  • In 2019 there were more than 111,000 scammers arrested worldwide (most in China). South Korea arrested over 9,000 scammers in 2019
  • In 2020 almost 80,000 scammers were arrested worldwide (12,000 in South Korea alone and over 30,000 in China) – this was due to the pandemic
  • 2021 looks like it will be a new record year for scammer arrests. In China alone, some reports indicate that over 230,000 scammers have been arrested (we believe this had to do with their pivot to COVID related scams that allowed for zero tolerance – in fact, a major portion in the increase of scams were for COVID related scams, however, all other types of scams increased as well
  • Even Nigeria looks like they will increase arrests of Nigerian scammers by more than 400% in 2021, and throughout West Africa arrests are increasing.

Our own analysis indicates that with the reopening, victims are far less isolated and dependent on internet connections, and this is reducing scam susceptibility.

Regardless of the reality, the pandemic brought with it another pandemic of scams & fraud. We are only now beginning to see the end of this tsunami of scams and it exposed how completely unprepared the public is for the management of their own online safety.

The solution though is not complicated – it is education. But you play a huge role in solving this.

You Need To:

  • Report every scam with money losses to your local policeLocal Police The Local Police is your first responder in most countries. In most English-speaking countries and in Europe report to them first. In other countries look for your national cybercrime police units to report scams to. In the U.S., Canada, & Australia, you must report to the local police first. and all scams on www.IC3.gov and ReportFraud.FTC.gov and www.Anyscam.com
  • Tell everyone you know about scams – your family and friends – make them understand that everyone can be scammed – your silence supports the criminals!
  • Learn all you can about the scams so that you can be a resource for family and friends – this is the right website for that!
  • Make time to talk with your local police – help them understand what it means to be a victim! SCARS offers a free guide for Law Enforcement on our main website AgainstScams.org with we will also have available in booklet form this month from our SCARS Store. Any citizens can talk to the local police chief, police commission, and city or country government about these issues!
  • Take the time to talk about scams at your local PTA (school) to help parents and children understand what is going on – you can refer them to us for deeper information – but your insights matter!
  • Call your local news media when there is scam news – make sure they are covering these stories
  • And always remember that elections have consequences. When anti-law and order candidates are elected crime increases. Think about that for the next congressional and presidential elections. While the pandemic was a special case, we are now in 2021 and things are not better! Cybercrime law enforcement matters!

Remember, preventing crime takes more than just thinking about it. You have to act!

We are acting! Will you help as well?

2020 United States Federal Bureau of Investigation IC3 Report


Always Report All Scams – Anywhere In The World To:

U.S. FTC at https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/#/?orgcode=SCARS and SCARS at www.Anyscams.com

Essential Tools For Every Scam SurvivorSurvivor A Scam Survivor is a victim who has been able to fully accept the reality of their situation. That they were the victim of a crime and are not to blame. They are working on their emotional recovery and reduction of any trauma either on their own, through a qualified support organization, or through counseling or therapy. And has done their duty and reported the crime to their local police, national police, and on Anyscam.com From SCARS Publishing

Visit shop.AgainstScams.org

Each is based on our SCARS Team’s 32 plus years of experience.

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SCARS GREN BOOK - The SCARS STEPS Guide to Scam Victim Recovery

Self-Help Self-Paced Recovery Program Guide


This program is designed to help scam victims struggling to recover on their own and for those who want to understand the overall process. You can be using other resources, such as traumaTrauma Emotional and psychological trauma is the result of extraordinarily stressful events that shatter your sense of security, making you feel helpless in a dangerous world. Psychological trauma can leave you struggling with upsetting emotions, memories, and anxiety that won’t go away. It can also leave you feeling numb, disconnected, and unable to trust other people. Traumatic experiences often involve a threat to life or safety or other emotional shocks, but any situation that leaves you feeling overwhelmed and isolated can result in trauma, even if it doesn’t involve physical harm. It’s not the objective circumstances that determine whether an event is traumatic, but your subjective emotional experience of the event. The more frightened and helpless you feel, the more likely you are to be traumatized. Trauma requires treatment, either through counseling or therapy or through trauma-oriented support programs, such as those offered by SCARS. counselingCounseling Counseling is the professional guidance of the individual by utilizing psychological methods especially in collecting case history data, using various techniques of the personal interview, and testing interests and aptitudes. A mental health counselor (MHC), or counselor, is a person who works with individuals and groups to promote optimum mental and emotional health. Such persons may help individuals deal with issues associated with addiction and substance abuse; family, parenting, and marital problems; stress management; self-esteem; and aging. They may also work with "Social Workers", "Psychiatrists", and "Psychologists". SCARS does not provide mental health counseling. or therapy, qualified support groupsSupport Groups In a support group, members provide each other with various types of help, usually nonprofessional and nonmaterial, for a particular shared, usually burdensome, characteristic, such as romance scams. Members with the same issues can come together for sharing coping strategies, to feel more empowered and for a sense of community. The help may take the form of providing and evaluating relevant information, relating personal experiences, listening to and accepting others' experiences, providing sympathetic understanding and establishing social networks. A support group may also work to inform the public or engage in advocacy. They can be supervised or not. SCARS support groups are moderated by the SCARS Team and or volunteers., or completely independent – on your own!

The SCARS Steps program is a complete program and is provided for the purpose of helping scam victims to overcome this experience. Throughout this SCARS Steps Program, we speak about issues and challenges that a victim may have and help guide them through their recovery. But each person is different and it is important to understand your own reasons for being vulnerable to being scammed.

After the trauma of being scammed, you need to take steps to recover and move on. This may be an alternative to counseling in the short term, but we still encourage you to seek out professional help & support. Throughout this SCARS Steps Program, we speak about issues, challenges, defects, or problems that a victim may have in a generalized way.

The SCARS GREEN BOOK will help you recover from your scam offline and it will always be there when you need it!

Get it here

SCARS SLATE BOOK - A Guide For Families & Friends Of Scam Victims

SCARS SLATE BOOK – Let Us Explain What Happened!

A Guide For Families & Friends Of Scam Victims


This SCARS Publishing book represents a complete guide to help the families and friends understand how these scams work and how to help the victim.

The SCARS Slate Book should be purchased by family and friends to better understand what happened to the victim and the traumatic impact on them. But it can also be shared by the victim so that they do not have to explain to family and friends about the scam. This publication is to help others to help Scam Victims to make it through this traumatic experience and recover.

Each person is different and it is important to understand how relationship scamsRelationship Scam A Relationship Scam is a one-to-one criminal act that involves a trust relationship and uses deception & manipulation to get a victim to give to the criminal something of value, such as money! Click here to learn more: What Is A Relationship Scam? work and why people are vulnerable; to being scammed, how they were lured in, then groomed and manipulated. This understanding is essential in helping them through the process of ending the scam and then on to recovery. The SCARS Slate Book will provide the information necessary to help support a victim through this process.

Get it here

SCARS RED BOOK - Your Personal Scam Evidence & Crime Record Organizer

Your Personal Scam Evidence & Crime Record Organizer


Helps you get and stay organized. This publication is to help Scam Victims organize their crime information. Complete this information before reporting to the police then bring this book with you

Before or after reporting to the police the RED BOOK gives you a dedicated tool to record all the essential facts of this crime. The Victim, the Scammers, the Money, and your Police interactions. Everything that really matters can be easily recorded for your immediate use and for the future!

As we have seen, money recovery/repayment programs can become available years after the scam ends and you need to keep all the details of this crime in case it is needed. We have also seen scammers being extradited to the U.S. and other countries, this will help in the event you testify or give statements, Additionally, this helps you have your information ready to qualify for victims’ benefits, compensation, or aid.

The Official SCARS RED BOOK is your way of recording all the important facts of this crime so that you do not lose essential information, Complete the RED BOOK then put it away with the confidence that you will have it if or when it is needed.

Get it here

SCARS BLUE BOOK - Survivor's Recovery Journal
SCARS LIME BOOK - Wisdom & Motivation for Scam Victims
SCARS CHERRY BOOK - A Guide To Understanding Your Fear
SCARS WORKBOOK - 8 Steps To Improvement
SCARS WORKBOOK - Understanding Self-Blame, Guilt, and Shame
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100% of all profit goes to help SCARS help more scam victims worldwide.

Your generous purchase allows us to maintain our scam avoidance, support, and recovery services. Please help SCARS and stand proud.