FBI Releases 2020 Internet Crime Report

Written By
G. Dautovic
June 07,2021

In its annual Internet Crime Report for 2020 released in March this year, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center disclosed an overview of the data gathered in the 14 months prior to its publication. The records show an unfortunate milestone, with an increase of more than 300,000 complaints, compared to 2019.

In a little over a year, the Center amassed one million complaints, with reported losses exceeding $4.1 billion. That’s a fifth of all the complaints the FBI gathered in the twenty years since the inception of the Crime Complaint Center.

The 69% increase in internet-crime reporting since 2019 matched the COVID-19 outbreak. With the pandemic forcing people to stay indoors and transfer most of their transactions and shopping online, fraud attempts followed suit.

The FBI stated: “Notably, 2020 saw the emergence of scams exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic. The IC3 received over 28,500 complaints related to COVID-19, with fraudsters targeting both businesses and individuals.”

The agency also reported that most registered online scams could be classified into five types: “Phishing (241,342), non-payment or non-delivery scams (108,869), extortion (76,741), personal data breaches (45,330), and identity theft (43,330).”

The biggest losses of $1.8 billion were attributed to sophisticated business-email-compromise scams (BEC). Cybercriminals would trick employees into transferring cash into their accounts and then compromise their email accounts. The top three costliest frauds are romance and confidence schemes, as well as investment fraud; the last involves fake cryptocurrency more and more often.

Demographically speaking, the older population was mainly targeted through romance and investment fraud, as well as lottery, grandparent, home-repair, and tech-support scams.

People in their twenties and thirties were victims of investment fraud schemes, with 50% of the losses attributed to cryptocurrency scams, and the FBI also noticed an increase in ransomware scams (2,474). Insurance fraud statistics tell us that insurance businesses lose approximately $80 billion annually to fraudulent insurance claims, and this type of scams also spiked during the pandemic.

About author

I have always thought of myself as a writer, but I began my career as a data operator with a large fintech firm. This position proved invaluable for learning how banks and other financial institutions operate. Daily correspondence with banking experts gave me insight into the systems and policies that power the economy. When I got the chance to translate my experience into words, I gladly joined the smart, enthusiastic Fortunly team.

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