Internet Crime Cost Americans $3.5 Billion in 2019, says FBI

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Internet scams and other types of cybercrime cost Americans more than $3.5 billion last year, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

In the annual report of the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), the agency said the number of reported complaints had nearly doubled since 2015, from 288,012 to 467, 361 in 2019—and reported losses increased five-fold since in the same period.

Over the past five years, total losses from Internet crime came to an estimated $10.2 billion.

With its report, the FBI issued a call to businesses and private individuals to continue to work together with the IC3’s Recovery Asset Team to report “malicious activity” to branch offices.

“Cyber is the ultimate team sport,” said Matt Gorham, assistant director of the FBI’s Cyber Division, in his introduction to the report.

“Working together we hope to create a safer, more secure cyber landscape, ensuring confidence as we traverse through a digitally connected world.”

The Recovery Asset Team, launched in 2018, was able to recover $300 million of losses attributed to online scams alone last year, for what it said was a 79 percent return rate.

However, the wider universe of Internet crime is growing, the report’s figures suggest.

The three most prevalent types of internet crime reported by victims were “Business Email Compromise” including “phishing, smishing and pharming”; non-delivery of goods ordered online; and extortion.

Business email compromise, in which email accounts are compromised through different forms of cyber hacking or cyber sabotage, resulted in over $1.7 billion in losses during 2019.

According to the report, California topped the list of states in the number of victims and in financial losses, with Texas and Florida a close second.

Seniors aged 60 and over were the largest single demographic victimized by Internet crime in 2019, accounting for 68,013 individual incidents with a net loss of over $835 million.

The report also listed the top 20 “international victim countries” hit by cyberscams during 2019, excluding the U.S. Heading the list was the United Kingdom with over 93,000 complaints. Canada (3,721) and India (2,901) were a distant second and third.

The full report is available here.

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