Voice of the Industry

The network to defeat a network: the international scam crisis sparking collective action

Tuesday 19 December 2023 09:22 CET | Editor: Raluca Ochiana | Voice of the industry

Jorij Abraham, Managing Director at Global Anti-Scam Alliance (GASA) shares the latest updates of the global scam market, and calls for an international mobilisation to fight this pandemic in 2024.


In the realm of our rapidly advancing digital world, a shadow has been growing – a dark cloud comprised of scams that have now reached an overwhelming scale. Our 2023 edition of the Global State of Scams Report, jointly presented by GASA and ScamAdviser, uncovered this shadow, revealing a chilling international emergency that cannot be ignored.

The sheer financial magnitude of the situation is startling. A staggering USD 1.026 trillion has been siphoned off from unsuspecting individuals globally. This is not just a number – it represents families, hardworking individuals, retirees, and students. When one in every four individuals becomes a victim, it is an undeniable testament to the gravity of the crisis at hand. That crisis only deepens when we factor in that only a fraction of scams is reported by victims, which could put the true figure even higher.

Our research, carried out with the support of academics from the University of Twente, questioned almost 50,000 participants across 43 countries and has shed light on the sophistication and persistence of scammers. Surprisingly, 69% of these individuals believed in their capability to recognise scams. This confidence, however, contrasts starkly with the 59% that reported monthly encounters with scams. Annually, that number swells to 78%, showing that only a lucky few seem to escape the attention of fraudsters. Such statistics are an eye-opener, showcasing the dynamic nature of scam methodologies which continually evolve to prey on both the informed and uninformed.

The mediums of scams have consistently been phone calls and text messages, accounting for 61% and 58%, respectively. It is a reminder that our most personal devices, meant for connection, can also be channels of deception. Furthermore, the nature of these scams varies. Shopping scams take the lead at 27%, but identity theft at 21%, and investment fraud at 20% aren’t far behind. This suggests a multi-pronged offensive that targets not only our finances but also our identities and future security.

The report also brings forth the susceptibility to attractive offers. The appeal of a ‘too good to be true’ deal remains universal, becoming the Achilles’ heel for many, irrespective of their geographical location. While developing countries see this as the primary bait, developed nations aren’t immune either. Such vulnerabilities underscore the need for enhanced consumer education and awareness.

A particularly concerning trend is revictimisation. On average, a scam victim is targeted 1.5 times, but in countries like Kenya and Nigeria, these figures jump to three and two times respectively. This indicates not just the audacity of scammers but also points to potential data breaches and shared information within the scamming community.

One might wonder why such activities aren’t massively reported and curbed. Unfortunately, 59% of global victims don’t report their experiences to anyone. This hesitancy stems from perceived complexities in reporting mechanisms and doubts over consequential actions. This lack of faith in the system is an area demanding urgent rectification. 

Financially, the implications of scams are staggering. Countries like Singapore, Switzerland, and Austria experience the highest average losses per individual. In contrast, nations like Kenya, Vietnam, Brazil, and Thailand see significant proportions of their GDPs evaporate due to fraud. 

Yet, beyond the numbers, lies an intangible but significant impact: the emotional cost. Nearly 60% of victims have reported considerable emotional distress following scams, a reminder that these incidents leave scars not just on bank accounts but on mental well-being. 

Our recent Global Anti-Scam Summit in Lisbon is a call to action for global stakeholders to come together, deliberate, and devise strategies to counter this escalating crisis. With the ‘10 Recommendations to Turn the Tide on Scams’ as our guide, we aim to guide stakeholders towards actionable, effective countermeasures. Those crucial recommendations include: 

  • Raise consumer awareness 

  • Facilitate easy national reporting 

  • Develop infrastructural tools 

  • Help service providers protect consumers 

  • Make fraud traceable across borders 

  • Set-up cross-organisational victim support 

  • Set up dedicated national consumer cyber security centres 

  • Establish a global scam data-sharing hub 

  • Allow preventative action (warn, block, stop) 

  • Enact an international scam investigation and prosecution network 

One message at the summit that resonated deeply with the in-person and online attendees was that ‘we need a network to defeat a network’, which is ultimately what has begun to form at the summit. With 250 attendees from governments, consumer and financial authorities, law enforcement, brand protection agencies, bigtech, cybersecurity, academia, and even famed YouTube scam baiters coming together to share knowledge and define joint actions to protect consumers from getting scammed, we are already seeing people putting their heads together on common goals. 

Two such initiatives born from the summit include the proposal to introduce a cryptocurrency trust seal and a scam footprint initiative to put responsibility on service providers to police their platforms and require them to report the scam’s impact on consumers using their services. 

To conclude, the 2023 Global State of Scams Report and the Global Anti-Scam Summit is a cry for global unity and a mandate for action. We, at GASA, remain committed to this fight and invite every stakeholder to join hands in eradicating this menace. Access the Global State of Scams 2023 and many other GASA reports at: https://www.gasa.org/resources.


This editorial is part of The Paypers' Fraud Prevention in Ecommerce Report 2023-2024, the ultimate source of knowledge that delves into the world of fraud prevention, revealing the most effective security methods for companies to stay one step away from bad actors and secure their businesses. 


About Jorij Abraham

Jorij Abraham has been part of the international ecommerce community since 1997. He has been an ecommerce manager at De Bijenkorf, TUI, an online publisher at Sanoma Media, and Director of Consulting at Unic. He also co-founded two companies: eVentures Europe and vZine. From 2013 – 2017, Jorij has been Director of Research and Advise at Thuiswinkel.org and Ecommerce Europe. Since 2017, he has run the Global Anti-Scam Alliance and ScamAdviser.com.



About GASA

GASA’s driving mission is to shield consumers globally from the financial and emotional trauma of scams. With many cybercriminals operating freely in the digital space, GASA invites governments, law enforcement, consumer protection, financial authorities and providers, brand protection agencies, social media, ISPs, and cybersecurity companies to share knowledge and define joint actions. These connections culminate in the annual Global State of Scams report, which follows the release of detailed reports that delve into the scam’s impact on individual countries each year.

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Keywords: fraud prevention, ecommerce, scam, cybersecurity, financial services, customer experience, marketplace, fraud detection
Categories: Fraud & Financial Crime
Companies: Global Anti-Scam Alliance
Countries: World
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Fraud & Financial Crime

Global Anti-Scam Alliance

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