Searches for help with scams rise as more consumers fear falling victim

New research by AI and analytics leader, SAS, has found UK consumers are increasingly seeking ways to avoid falling victim to scams, with Google searches for checking the legitimacy of websites doubling in 2023.

The research also found there was a 125% increase in searches for ‘website legit check’, while ‘check fraud website’ and ‘site scammer check’ both saw a 123% rise from 2022 to 2023, underlining the growing awareness among consumers to protect themselves against scams.

SAS used Google search data to determine which common queries in relation to scams and fraud saw the biggest increase in searches in 2023, in addition to specific scams consumers wanted to learn more about.

Consumers’ interest in how to react to potential scams has also piqued, with searches for ‘Have I been scammed’ and ‘What to do if you’ve been scammed online’ each seeing a 50% increase. 

  KeywordAverage monthly searches in 2023Year-on-year change (2022/23)
Website legit check1,900125%
Check fraud website1,900123%
Site scammer check1,900123%
Check if website is legit1,00081%
Scammer check1,00081%
Email scammer check88022%
How to get money back from scam59022%
How to get money back from fraud59022%
Have I been scammed48050%
What to do if you’ve been scammed online39050%

The findings follow SAS’ recent consumer fraud study which showed three-quarters of UK consumers are fearful of being a victim of fraud.

The survey of 13,500 global consumers found that 86% were more wary of fraud in 2022 than before, while more than three in 10 have been victims of fraud twice or more.

Meanwhile, nearly 90% of UK consumers think that organisations should be doing more to protect them from fraud.

Which scams are proving the biggest worry for consumers?

SAS’ latest research also revealed Ponzi scams were the most searched for, owing to a significant 890% increase in searches last year - and a 1,578% increase in the last three months.

This follows an array of popular television shows about Ponzi schemes, with ‘Madoff: The Monster of Wall Street’ debuting at number two on the Netflix top ten most viewed list at the start of 2023, while ITV’s ‘Vanishing Act’, which follows Australian conwomen Melissa Caddick’s suspected Ponzi scheme, also hit the headlines.

Romance scams (a 140% increase), dating scams (a 69% increase), and bank transfer scams (a 14% increase) also made the top 10.

Although searches for online job scams remain relatively low, they increased by over 600%, with only crypto scams seeing a fall in searches in 2023. 

  Keyword  Average monthly searches in 2023  Year-on-year change (2022/3)
Ponzi scam1,900890%
Romance scam1,600140%
Crypto scams1,600-19%
Check scams1,00081%
Bank transfer scam1,00014%
Money transfer scam1,00014%
Dating scams88069%
Online shopping scam9057%
Online job scam50600%
Fake debt collection text30100%

There is also a growing appetite to report scams and fraud amongst consumers, with searches for reporting scam emails, fraud and phone scams all increasing over the last year.

  Keyword  Average monthly searches in 2023  Year-on-year change (2022/3)
Report scam email4,40022%
Report phishing email3,60021%
Report fraud2,90021%
Report a scammer2,90053%
Report phone scams1,90023%
Report scam website1,60046%
Report fraud website72049%

Christen Kirchner, Senior Solutions Expert, Fraud & AML for SAS Northern Europe, said:

“These findings illustrate how consumers are becoming more fearful of falling victim to scams and fraud, a worrying trend SAS’ own consumer fraud report has drawn attention to. While educational information is available online, businesses and organisations also have a responsibility to provide greater support to concerned consumers, or they risk losing them to their competitors.“

“Consumers are wanting to take action to prevent fraud - as shown by the rise in searches for checking the legitimacy of websites - and learn more about the specific scams which may affect them. Equally, there’s been an increase in searches for reporting scammers and fraudsters, a positive step to add to the efforts of businesses.“

“Our report last year also revealed a willingness among consumers to enable providers to use technology in the fight against fraud - with SAS’ survey showing around seven in 10 are willing to share personal data with service providers on the basis they can use this information to better protect them.“

To find out more download the report Faces of Fraud: Consumer experiences with fraud and what it means for businesses.


SAS used Google Keyword Planner to search for common queries related to scams and fraud, recording the average monthly searches in 2023 and the year over year change from 2022 to 2023.

All data correct as of January 2024.

Faces of Fraud: Consumer experiences with fraud and what it means for businesses.

SAS commissioned 3Gem Research and Insights to undertake a global study into some of the key trends in fraud against consumers at the end of 2022. The findings are based on a sample size of 13,500, with a 50/50 split of males and females. Respondents came from the UK and mainland Europe, the USA, Canada, Brazil, UAE and South Africa. There were 1,000 respondents from the UK.

Complementing the Faces of Fraud e-book, SAS’ online dashboard offers data visualisation tools that allow users to examine findings by country and age demographics. Explore the survey data at

Please credit the research to SAS.

About SAS

SAS is a global leader in AI and analytics software, including industry-specific solutions. SAS helps organisations transform data into trusted decisions faster by providing knowledge in the moments that matter. SAS gives you THE POWER TO KNOW®.

SAS and all other SAS Institute Inc. product or service names are registered trademarks or trademarks of SAS Institute Inc. in the USA and other countries. ® indicates USA registration. Other brand and product names are trademarks of their respective companies. Copyright © 2024 SAS Institute Inc. All rights reserved.

Editorial contacts:

Visit the SAS Newsroom