The Biggest Scams of 2022

In their never-ending pursuit of your money and identity, criminals are constantly coming up with new cons. While their goals — to get your personal information and money — remain the same year in and year out, their strategies constantly change with the times. Fraudsters know that people are most vulnerable when they’re desperate or scared, and they may uses crises and pressure tactics to prey on their victims. From student loan forgiveness to employment scams, here are some of the biggest ways scammers tried to trick us in 2022.


Money “Accidentally” Sent To You
If you ever see someone send you money “by accident,” don’t cash it in or give it back. Here’s how it works: Scammers buy stolen credit cards and connect them to their payment app of choice. They then begin sending random people money “by accident” and proceed to message them asking for the money back. The scammers change out the stolen credit cards from the payment apps and connect their own personal cards instead, waiting for the victim to send them “clean” money back.

Student Loan Forgiveness Scams
Student loan forgiveness scammers may contact you via phone or create phony application sites aimed at stealing your Social Security number or your bank account information. They may put pressure on their victims with fake urgent messages that encourage you to apply for debt relief before it's too late. Then they'll charge you a hefty application fee. In reality, it's a scam.

SIM Swapping
SIM swapping happens when a thief steals your number and assigns it to a new SIM card in a phone they control. It's the same process you go through when you get a new phone and the mobile carrier gives you a new SIM card. The scammer uses your SIM card to steal your information to log in to your accounts and either enter a verification code or reset the account password using the code or link sent to the phone.

One-Time Password (OTP) Bots
So-called OTP bots trick people into sharing the authentication codes that are sent to them via text or email. The bots may initiate a robocall or send you a text imitating a legitimate company. For example, the robocall may look and sound like it's coming from a bank. The voice asks you to authorize a charge and tells you to input the code you're texted if it's not one you made. In reality, the bot is attempting to log in to your account, which triggers the system to send you the code. If you share the code, the scammer can then log in to your account.

Online Purchase Scams
The basic premise of this type of scam is that you purchase a product or service that's never delivered. Scammers often sell goods on marketplace websites or social media, although some set up fake e-commerce stores. Always look for red flags such as too-good-to-be-true prices, lack of details or high-pressure sales tactics. Scammers may also use triangulation fraud to take money from you when you buy something online, only to purchase the item you want with someone else's stolen credit card. They'll send you the item, and you may never know that they'd used a stolen credit card and pocketed your money.

Employment Scams
Employment scams use enticing, and hard-to-detect, lures to target people who've been out of work. Some scammers take a slow approach with interviews and a legitimate-seeming operation. They then collect personal information from your employment forms, or tell you to buy equipment or training.  Other scams get right to the point and promise guaranteed or easy income — if you purchase their program. Sometimes, a fake employer sends a large paycheck and asks you to send the "extra" back — a play on the popular over-payment scam. You may also see job opportunities that involve receiving money and sending funds to another account, or receiving and reshipping packages. These "money mule" and "reshipping mule" jobs are often part of an illegal operation, and you could be personally liable.