The Scammies: Aura Announces its Inaugural List of Top 10 Cyber Scams

The Scammies: Aura Announces its Inaugural List of Top 10 Cyber Scams

Major headlines often become hotspots for scams

BOSTON, Dec. 7, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Aura, the online safety platform for families, is releasing its inaugural end-of-year report highlighting the top scams of the year. In 2023, Aura blocked millions of scam and spam websites for its customers and over 25 million unwanted ads for each of its users–many of which occurred on or around significant moments in time for consumers.

These are the top 10 scams from 2023, as identified by Aura’s Smart Network, which detects and blocks harmful sites as they emerge to make the internet safer for everyone. Aura analyzed media coverage, social chatter, and its Smart Network malicious website-blocking technology to rank these top scams.

Top Scams of 2023

10. Maui Wildfires

Scammers used the wildfires in Maui to exploit people’s generosity, building fake charities and donation websites. Aura saw a 45% increase in Maui-related charitable donation scam websites in August, persisting through September.

9. Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day took place before consumers felt the full burden of inflation– gift-giving culture was in full swing. Scammers took advantage, making fake online stores and special deals to dupe unsuspecting love birds. In the run-up to Valentine’s Day, there was a 104% increase in related website scams compared to January.

8. Barbenheimer

Scammers exploited Barbenheimer (Barbie + Oppenheimer) mania with fraudulent ticket sales and streaming sites. Aura saw a 125% increase in malicious websites offering exclusive content related to the Barbie and Oppenheimer movies during the opening weekend on July 21.

7. GPT-4 Launch

OpenAI announced GPT-4 for ChatGPT Plus users. After the unveiling on March 14, Aura saw a 147% increase in related scam websites. These clone websites would pretend to be the real ChatGPT with similar domains, but are intended to steal email and password information from unsuspecting users.

6. MGM Breach

The 10-day long MGM casino hack made headlines, bringing casinos and gambling top of mind for scammers. There was a spike of 215% in related fraudulent websites in the week following the breach, compared to the previous month.

5. Mega Millions Jackpot

The Mega Millions jackpot had been steadily increasing since its last winner in April, reaching a staggering $1.25 billion by August 1. As a result, the months of July and August saw a sharp 234% surge in lottery-related scam messages sent through text.

4. iPhone 15 Debut

Many fake websites popped up after Apple debuted its latest generation iPhones, pretending to be certified sellers or offering pre-order sign-ups. Aura saw a spike of 348% in iPhone 15-related scam websites in the week following Apple’s event on September 7.

3. Beyonce’s Renaissance Tour

After tour tickets became available on February 1, Aura saw a 919% increase in related scam websites in the middle of the month and again in late March.

2. Student Loan Payments Resume

Student loan interest restarted in October, and borrowers began repaying their loans for the first time since March 2020. Scammers took advantage of the uncertainty created by multiple repayment date extensions. Education-related and back-to-school scams, including student loan scam offers, sent via text message rose in July and peaked in early August, a rise of 1,181%.

1. Tax Day

Scammers used the sense of urgency created by the deadline coupled with the newfound trend of online tax filing to their advantage. On April 18, Aura saw a 2,700% increase in fraudulent websites related to tax filing compared to the previous month.

2024 Top Scam Prediction

The standout scam in 2023 was synthetic voice fraud, where scammers used AI-generated “voice cloning” to create convincing imposter scams by manipulating short audio clips from social media. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a warning about this in March 2023.

“In 2024, people should anticipate that this trend will expand to other mediums, as AI makes it easier to duplicate and edit legitimate videos, images, websites, emails and text messages for nefarious purposes,” said Aura’s Chief Scientist, Dr. Zulfikar Ramzan. “We can’t blindly trust the content we see online. It’s important to take a moment and look out for the signs that something has been doctored.”

Aura is the first truly intelligent safety solution, protecting everything your family does online. With an easy-to-use, AI-powered platform that continuously adapts to evolving online risks1, Aura mitigates threats before they become real problems. By focusing on preventative protection – leveraging our #1 rated identity protection services, automatically updating breached passwords found on the dark web, auto-blocking call and SMS scams, and alerting parents to cyberbullying and online predators – Aura puts families a step ahead of cybercriminals for the first time. To learn more, visit

1 Not all features are powered by AI.


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