The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) has been providing the public with reliable cybercrime reporting systems for 20 years. In that time, the IC3 has developed into a go-to platform for victims of fraud, online scams, identity theft, and other cyber-related crimes that have inflicted losses of over $10 billion.
Last week, the center received its six millionth complaint, revealing that, while individuals have become more inclined to report cyber incidents, more and more people are falling victim to cybercrime.
“On one hand, the number holds some positive news,” IC3 Chief Donna Gregory said. “People know how to find us and how to report an incident. “But on the other hand, these numbers indicate more people are being affected by online crimes and scams.”
According to the 2020 IC3 report, the top three scams and cybercrimes reported by victims were phishing scams, non-payment/non-delivery scams and extortion attempts. However, most losses were linked to romance schemes, business email compromise (BEC) scams and investment fraud.
While the surge in reports is undoubtedly related to the increased use of online platforms and e-commerce activities due to Covid-19, the agency said 2021 could be another record-breaking year in internet crime reports.
In one of the latest FBI public service announcements, the agency warned the public that scammers are extorting family members of missing persons by monitoring social media posts.
After scammers gather sufficient information on the victim, they contact the family and demand ransom without ever meeting the missing person.
“After identifying a missing person on social media, scammers research details of the disappearance, the missing person, and the missing person’s family,”the agency explained.
“The scammers often obtain telephone numbers for the family members on social media and use third-party calling or messaging applications to make ransom demands to disguise their true telephone number, the agency added.” The criminal actor generally requests between $5,000 and $10,000 in ransom, with $7,000 requested in multiple instances.” The FBI recommends vigilance and urges individuals to contact local law enforcement agencies should these scammers contact them.