The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) this week released its 2018 Internet Crime Report which states that the law-enforcement center received 351,936 complaints of cybercrime in 2018, and that losses from those crimes exceeded $2.7 Billion – clearly indicating that reported cybercrime losses suffered by Americans continues to grow. (The figure does not even include some crimes reported directly to FBI field agents, and obviously does not include crimes that were not reported to law enforcement.)
The most commonly reported Internet crimes in 2018 were:
• Personal Data Breach
The crimes grossing the highest payouts for criminals – and the biggest total financial losses for victims – were:
• Business Email Compromise
• Confidence/Romance Fraud
• Investment Scams
As is clear from the report, many cybercrimes involve no hacking at all – they are simply technology-era versions of older crimes – investment scams, crooks not paying for items that they purchased or not delivering items for which they received payment, and other cons. Sadly, many people who fall prey to such scams believe they are too smart to fall prey to such scams – hence, I strongly suggest reading up on how to protect yourself. Here are some tips, for example, on avoiding scams when shopping online.
It is interesting to note that reports to the FBI’s IC3 came in from every State, and involved victims of every age range; a disproportionate number of victims and of financial losses, however, were reported by people over the age of 50.
How much significance should be assigned to the age factor is subject to debate – as external factors may help account for the disproportionate reporting of crimes by folks over 50; it is possible that that Millennials, Generation Zers, and younger members of Generation X may be less inclined to report certain types of cybercrimes to the FBI than might be older members of Generation X and Baby Boomers. Furthermore, in terms of total losses, one must keep in mind that people in their 50s and 60s often have more assets to lose to scams than people who have just started working. In fact, in the past, the Better Business Bureau has found that younger people are often more likely to lose money to scams than are older folks.
In any case, because it shows quite clearly that people in all age groups are being targeted, the current FBI report should serve as a warning to everyone: Ensure that you and the other members of your family are aware of the various forms of cybercrime impacting Americans today, and of how to stay reasonably safe from becoming a victim.
One major positive development noted in the report is that the IC3’s newly-established Recovery Asset Team, created in 2018 to help recover funds that cybercrime victims wire-transferred to crooks, was already able to recover over a quarter of a billion dollars – returning to its rightful owners roughly 3/4 of the sum of money that would otherwise have been lost to criminals. Thank you, IC3 – and best wishes for continued success in combating cybercrime.