Just like the previous year, 2021 has been a profitable period for scammers. The pandemic has contributed to the rising numbers of online scams since more people spent a lot of time at home, on the internet, working, browsing, entertaining, and shopping. Nonetheless, phone scams and door-to-door sales, or charity scams were not left behind either. Here is a list of the biggest scams and frauds in 2021, measured by the number of victims and the total amount of money stolen.

Government Agencies Impersonation Scams

The IRS has been the main target of scammers who dared to impersonate state agencies in 2021. The FBI is another entity that was often impersonated. These scams were carried out both by phone and email. Scammers who pretended to work for these agencies asked people to wire money through MoneyGram or Western Union (methods that official institutions never ask taxpayers to use) in order to pay their taxes.

Bad Credit Loans

Many people’s finances were drastically affected by the pandemic, and plenty didn’t manage to stay afloat with the stimulus packages offered by the government. Naturally, the next solution was to get a loan or apply for a credit line. Scammers took advantage of this vulnerability too. Knowing that it is usually hard to get approved for a credit if you have a poor credit score, they claimed they worked for financial consultancy firms that also support borrowers with bad credit. Basically, scammers promised guaranteed loans to victims who agreed to pay them a service fee first.

Debt Collection Scams

2021 was the year when many people had to tackle the loans they’ve obtained the previous year when the pandemic hit hard both businesses and individuals’ finances. In this favorable context, merciless fraudsters started harassing people over the phone, after illicitly discovering what debts they had. Scammers pretended to represent debt collection companies, and many managed to gather significant money from people who gave up under too much pressure and decided to pay.

Lottery and Fake Prize Scams

These tricks are nothing new, but they keep reinventing themselves and the online environment allows them to proliferate. Even in 2021, many consumers received emails or phone calls regarding lottery prizes or other types of prizes or free gifts. However, to claim those prizes, lucky winners were first asked to wire transfer a small amount of money as handling costs or fees. Once they’ve made the transfer, scammers vanished together with their inexistent prizes.

E-commerce Scams

These scams are ever-growing and continuously taking new forms. Some of the most common online shopping scams of 2021 included products that were advertised differently compared to what clients actually received, fake products imitating famous clothing or other luxury brands, damaged products that clients were not able to return, or no products at all. Many fake websites have simply advertised products and invoiced customers without offering anything in return.

Phishing Emails

This is another evergreen scam that has been reported throughout 2021. Phishing emails are fake emails that look as if they were sent by a legitimate company or organization. They usually include a link or attachments. The purpose of these emails is to enable scammers and hackers to access peoples’ personal information such as names, addresses, bank details, or social security numbers. Phishing emails often offer a great discount or a free giveaway. To receive it, those who are interested in the offering are asked to fill out a form online. This is how personal information theft occurs, once users submit those forms, they unknowingly hand over sensitive information to ill-intentioned individuals who can use it for impersonation purposes or sell it on the dark web. Combating these types of scams can be challenging, therefore, security upgrades and updates on a regular basis are necessary, we have noticed some big investment companies performing such upgrades, among them, sdg-investments, Diamond Shield Management, Union Finance Investment.

Online Dating Scams

This is another cruel scam that has been making headlines in 2021. Online romance scams usually take place on social media channels or dating apps. Scammers claim they’re interested in a romantic relationship with their victims. Once they gain their trust, they ask for money pretending to be in a critical situation, and usually in a remote country with no possibility of turning back home. They promise their online dates they will meet with them face to face and repay them once they get back home. Of course, this never happens.

2021 was another productive year for hackers, scammers, and fraudsters. If you ever become the victim of one of these scams or similar ones, don’t refrain from reporting it to the authorities to help put an end to these costly and painful thefts.