Published:Feb 20, 2024


$737M lost to fake job offers in the US since 2019

If you’re looking for a new job, beware — Americans have lost hundreds of millions of dollars from fake job offers since 2019. Surfshark looked at data from the Federal Trade Commission and analyzed the statistics on job scams & employment agencies¹. The data includes cases of fraudulent job offers, employment agencies, or consulting services that require a fee. In some cases, the reports did not come with any monetary losses; in others, victims lost tens of thousands of dollars to scammers.

Key insights

  • Over the last five years, there have been 294,000 reports of employment scams in the United States. Almost a third of these complaints reported a monetary loss, totaling $737 million. On average, successful job scams have cost $8,700 per victim.
  • Since 2019, there has been a notable increase in job scam reports. As unemployment surged during the COVID-19 pandemic² and people scrambled to find new jobs, scammers got to work — in 2021, reports more than doubled compared to 2020 (from 37,000 to 81,000). But since then, the growth in employment scams has slowed — there was a slight dip in 2022 (71,000 reports) and only a modest increase in 2023 (84,000 reports).
  • In contrast, losses attributed to employment scams have sharply increased over the years, reaching a record high in 2023 with a total of $277 million lost to fake job offers. This marks an increase of more than threefold compared to the figures from 2019.
  • Similarly, losses per victim have shown a steady growth over the last five years, with an average of $12,000 lost per victim, a nearly twofold increase when compared to 2019. This suggests that job scam victims may suffer even greater losses due to job scams in 2024, serving as a stark warning to exercise caution.
  • To stay safe from job scams, keep an eye out for red flags. Be skeptical of any requests for application fees or sensitive personal information, and do detailed research on the company offering the job before taking any action. Exercising caution and due diligence is crucial in ensuring your search for new opportunities remains safe and scam-free.

Methodology and sources

The data for this study was collected from the Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book by the Federal Trade Commission (2019-2023). Reports on job scams and related issues were collected from “Job Scams & Employment Agencies” data subcategory1. Data on the number of reports and amount lost for job scams was aggregated per year and analyzed in terms of change over the years and average losses per victim.

For the complete research material behind this study, visit here.

Data was collected from:

Federal Trade Commission (2023) Job Scams and & Employment Agencies 2019-2023.


¹ Federal Trade Commission (2024). Report Categories and Subcategories for the Consumer Sentinel Network.² Trading Economics (2024). United States Unemployment Rate.
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