The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has implemented a new rule to combat the growing threat of impersonation scams, which cost victims an estimated $1.1 billion last year, "more than three times what consumers reported in 2020."

What Happened: The FTC's new rule, which came into effect on April 1, empowers the FTC to directly file federal court complaints to compel scammers to return money stolen through business or government impersonation.

According to the commission's information, "The rule gives the agency stronger tools to combat and deter scammers who impersonate government agencies and businesses, enabling the FTC to file federal court cases seeking to get money back to injured consumers and civil penalties against rule violators."

FTC is also seeking public input on potential changes to the rule that would allow it to target individual impersonation, such as through video deepfakes or AI voice cloning.

The release stated, "The FTC is also accepting public comments until April 30, 2024, on a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking that would prohibit the impersonation of individuals and prohibit providing scammers with the means and instruments to execute such scams."

Why It Matters: FTC's new rule is a response to the increasing sophistication of impersonation scams. For instance, Linus Media Group previously fell victim to a scam where a thief posed as a potential sponsor and took control of three of the company's YouTube channels.

Certain scams can be remarkably complex, such as the experience shared by financial columnist Charlotte Cowles from The Cut. She recounted how she fell victim to an intricate scam, losing $50,000 stored in a shoebox, reported The Verge.

The scheme involved a counterfeit Amazon (AMZN  ) business account, interactions with the FTC, and even purported involvement of the Central Intelligence Agency or CIA.