Who were they good for? Scammers.
Online crime surged to record levels in 2021 – with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) receiving 847,376 complaints with total losses of $6.9 billion. By contrast, there were 301,580 complaints with total losses of $1.4 billion five years ago – meaning complaints have climbed by 181 percent and losses have spiked by nearly 393 percent over the last half-decade.
IC3 was established by the FBI in 2000 to “receive complaints of internet related crime.” It has received 6.5 million such complaints since its inception – with more than a quarter of those complaints (25.4 percent) being lodged in the last two years alone.
“In 2021, America experienced an unprecedented increase in cyber attacks and malicious cyber activity,” FBI deputy director Paul Abbate wrote in the report. “These cyber attacks compromised businesses in an extensive array of business sectors as well as the American public.”
Take a look …
(Click to view)
The most common type of crime was “phishing, vishing (voice phishing), smishing (text phishing) or pharming (website redirection),” according to the report.
One rising threat? Business email compromise (BEC)/ email account compromise (EAC) complaints – in which increasingly sophisticated fraudsters breach corporate networks or individual email accounts and conduct unauthorized transfers of funds.
“The scheme has evolved from simple hacking or spoofing of business and personal email accounts to requesting to send wire payments to fraudulent bank accounts,” the IC3 report noted.
“These schemes historically involved compromised vendor emails, requests for W-2 information, targeting of the real estate sector, and fraudulent requests for large amounts of gift cards,” the report continued. “Now, fraudsters are using virtual meeting platforms to hack emails and spoof business leaders’ credentials to initiate the fraudulent wire transfers. These fraudulent wire transfers are often immediately transferred to cryptocurrency wallets and quickly dispersed, making recovery efforts more difficult.”
Scammers are finding fertile ground because the “Covid-19 pandemic and restrictions on in-person meetings led to increases in telework or virtual communication practices (which) continued into 2021.”
In South Carolina, 5,426 victims reported losses totaling approximately $42.8 million – which ranked the Palmetto State No. 27 and No. 29 nationally in those categories, respectively.
Both of those rankings were roughly proportional with our state’s population.
“We want people to be cognizant of the alarming amount of internet-enabled crimes that occur and how easy it can be to fall into a scammer’s trap,” FBI spokesman Kevin Wheeler said. ” Cyber criminals work non-stop to steal money from South Carolinians. The FBI will continue to work with the public to provide them with the tools necessary to spot scams and report them to the FBI so that we can track offenders and hold them accountable.”
Anyone who believes they have been victimized by an internet crime should submit a report with IC3 by clicking here.
THE REPORT …
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children. And yes, he has LOTS of hats (including that Minnesota Twins’ lid pictured above).
WANNA SOUND OFF?
Got something you’d like to say in response to one of our articles? Or an issue you’d like to proactively address? We have an open microphone policy here at FITSNews! Submit your letter to the editor (or guest column) via email HERE. Got a tip for a story? CLICK HERE. Got a technical question or a glitch to report? CLICK HERE.
BANNER VIA: GETTY IMAGES