Industry News

Cyber-enabled crimes cost U.S. citizens $3.5 billion in 2019

The Internet Crime Report recently released by the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) sheds light on Internet-related crimes. The data analyzed covers a year’s worth of cybercrime complaints from consumers and businesses. At an average of 1,300 entries per day, 2019 recorded a total of 467,361 complaints that translate to a staggering $3.5 billion in losses.

The report reveals the top-grossing cybercrime types reported by victims in 2019:

  • Phishing/vishing/smishing/pharming, with 114,702 victims
  • Non-payment/non-delivery, with 61,832 victims
  • Extortion, with 43,101 victims

In the past 5 years, the IC3 received 1,707,618 complaints, an increase in both the number of complaints and monetary loss from recent years.

Source: IC3 complaint statistics of the last five years (FBI)

More importantly, business email compromise (BEC) and email account compromise (EAC) account for more than $1.7 billion in losses. “BEC/EAC is constantly evolving as scammers become more sophisticated,” the report reads.

The FBI noted that the scam “is frequently carried out when a subject compromises legitimate business email accounts through social engineering or computer intrusion techniques to conduct unauthorized transfers of funds.”

The IC3 also observed that “victims over the age of 60 may encounter scams including Advance Fee Schemes, Investment Fraud Schemes, Romance Scams, Tech Support Scams, Grandparent Scams, Government Impersonation Scams, Sweepstakes/Charity/Lottery Scams, Home Repair Scams, TV/Radio Scams, and Family/Caregiver Scams.”

In 2018, the FBI launched IC3’s Recovery Asset Team (RAT) with the sole purpose to help BEC scam victims recover funds. “During its inaugural year, the team assisted in the recovery of over $300 million lost through on-line scams, boasting a 79% return rate of reported losses,” the report says.

Matt Gorham, assistant director of the FBI’s Cyber Division, emphasized the importance of reporting Internet crime. “We encourage everyone to use IC3 and reach out to their local field office to report malicious activity,” he said. “Cyber is the ultimate team sport. Working together we hope to create a safer, more secure cyber landscape ensuring confidence as we traverse through a digitally-connected world.”

About the author

Alina Bizga

Alina has been a part of the Bitdefender family for some years now, as her past role involved interfacing with end users and partners, advocating Bitdefender technologies and solutions. She is a history buff and passionate about cybersecurity and anything sci-fi. Her spare time is usually split between her two feline friends and traveling.