Don't become a fraud statistic! Watch out for these 10 rip-offs that steal the most money from Americans. Our countdown includes the most current FTC fraud data, from 2017.

10. Wireless and telephone scams

Woman hands with bills and mobile phone
sebra / Shutterstock

Hello? You've been conned! These can include mystery charges that show up on your phone bill, text-message fraud or even scammy apps that steal your money.

  • Total losses: $16.9 million
  • Typical loss: $223
  • Reports: 149,600
  • How victims were usually contacted: Text message

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9.Debt-relief rip-offs and foreclosure scams

Foreclosure Home For Sale Sign in Front of Beautiful House.
Andy Dean Photography / Shutterstock

Scammers have no qualms about kicking people when they're down. If you're facing foreclosure or dealing with a mountain of debt, they'll offer to save your house or get you a better deal from your lender. For a big fat fee, of course.

  • Total losses: $17.2 million
  • Typical loss: $1,200
  • Reports: 9,000
  • How victims were usually contacted: Phone call

8. Internet scams

Seriously confident asian young freelancer in smart casual working and concentrated on laptop
Chaay_Tee / Shutterstock

These rip-offs can involve malware, online games and even social media. There's also phishing: You get an email that looks like it comes from a company you do business with, but click on it and you'll be whisked to a site operated by fraudsters.

  • Total losses: $19.4 million
  • Typical loss: $183
  • Reports: 45,100
  • How victims were usually contacted: Consumer contacted the scammer

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7. Foreign money scams/counterfeit checks

An elderly woman reads negative news in a letter at home on the couch. An elderly woman received a notice of the loss of a child, her husband.
svershinsky / Shutterstock

This includes the classic "Nigerian letter" scam: A "foreign official" offers to share a fortune with you if you'll help get it out of his country. All you have to do is pay a fee or provide your bank account number. What could go wrong?

  • Total losses: $34.3 million
  • Typical loss: $1,008
  • Reports: 32,000
  • How victims were usually contacted: Mail

6. Travel, vacation and timeshare schemes

Creepy dirty and abandoned bedroom with cracked walls
Antlio / Shutterstock

It's the vacation of a lifetime, and so incredibly cheap! So you pay, and then say bon voyage — to your money. Maybe there's no trip, or maybe your "four-star accommodations" are squalid and bedbuggy.

  • Total losses: $38.5 million
  • Typical loss: $1,710
  • Reports: 22,300
  • How victims were usually contacted: Phone call

5. Phony job opportunities and business scams

Get Rich! Really Rich!
Gustavo Frazao / Shutterstock

They tell you that you can make serious money working from home, or that there's a can't-miss franchise opportunity, or that they'll get you a job — guaranteed! So you give the scam artists money, and they get a payday. But you never do.

  • Total losses: $46.9 million
  • Typical loss: $1,063
  • Reports: 18,700
  • How victims were usually contacted: Email

4. Investment scams

Scam cryptocurrency design
knipsdesign / Shutterstock

Included in this category are the new cryptocurrencies, penny stocks, pyramid schemes and other investments that sound too good to be true — because they are.

  • Total losses: $47.7 million
  • Typical loss: $400
  • Reports: 15,100
  • How victims were usually contacted: Consumer contacted the scammer

3. Shop-at-home rip-offs

business and modern lifestyle concept: young woman shopping online at the park
Georgejmclittle / Shutterstock

Shopping by computer is easy and convenient, but you don't always get what you pay for — or what you think you're paying for. For example, shoppers wanting Pandora Jewelry last year got scammed by a knockoff site,

  • Total losses: $94.1 million
  • Typical loss: $261
  • Reports: 126,400
  • How victims were usually contacted: Email

2. Sweepstakes schemes and prize scams

A young woman is overjoyed by message on her tablet computer stating she has won a prize, not realizing it is a scam.
Bob Venezia / Shutterstock

"You've won a fabulous prize!" these fraudsters tell you. But to collect, you'll need to pay the taxes, or a bogus "handling charge." Oh, and they'll need your bank account information, too.

  • Total losses: $95.1 million
  • Typical loss: $511
  • Reports: 142,900
  • How victims were usually contacted: Phone call

1. Imposter scams

Businessman wearing blue mask on gray background with clipping path. Someone who wears a mask when socializing.
winuturn / Shutterstock

Imposter scams steal more money from consumers than any other type of fraud. That's because we think we know the scammer, who pretends to be an IRS official, a loved one in trouble or someone else we'd be willing to hand money over to.

  • Total losses: $328.4 million
  • Typical loss: $500
  • Reports: 347,800
  • How victims were usually contacted: Phone call

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About the Author

Doug Whiteman

Doug Whiteman

Former Editor-in-Chief

Doug Whiteman was formerly the editor-in-chief of MoneyWise. He has been quoted by The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and and has been interviewed on Fox Business, CBS Radio and the syndicated TV show "First Business."

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