The Federal Bureau of Investigations Internet Crime Complaint Centre (IC3) has published a report on internet crime in the US during 2019. The report reveals that last year’s 467,361 reported incidences of cybercrime were responsible for losses of around $3.5 billion.
The IC3 says it has received 4,883,231 complaints since its inception in May 2000, with an average of around 340,000 claims per year and more than 1,200 complaints per day over the last five years.
They calculate that in the five years between 2015 and 2019, victims of cybercrime reported $10.5 billion of stolen funds.
The report concludes that phishing, extortion and similar non-payment or non-delivery scams were the most frequent causes of complaints.
The most costly crimes included business email compromise, romantic fraud and spoofing (propagating or imitating the account of a person or seller known to the victim to collect personal or financial information).
The IC3 also reported that the Recovery Asset Team (RAT), established in February 2018, has been able to assist in the recovery of funds for victims of various internet crimes.
The RAT, an independent task force set up in 2018, ended its first operational year in 2019 having recovered more than 300 million dollars worth of funds stolen by online fraud, accounting for a 79% return of all reported losses that year.
According to the report, these scams often involve a crime committed by imitating a legitimate email address. For example, an individual receives a message appearing to come from one of their company executives or from a company that has had previous dealings with that individual.
The email requests a seemingly legitimate payment by bank transfer or card purchase, but the transaction actually delivers the money directly to the offender.
In 2019, the IC3 observed an increase in the number of BEC (Business Email Compromise) complaints related to the diversion of payroll funds. In this type of scheme, fraudsters pose as employees and send an email requesting to update their direct deposit information to a company’s HR or payroll department.
In 2019, the IC3 received 13,633 complaints related to Tech Support Fraud from victims in 48 countries. The losses amounted to over $54 million, which represents a 40 per cent increase in losses from 2018.
According to the IC3, the vast majority of victims reporting Tech Support Fraud were over 60 years of age.
In 2019, the IC3 also received 2,047 complaints relating to ransomware, with adjusted losses of over $8.9 million.