According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Americans lost $10.3 billion to internet scams last year.
The loss in 2022 was the largest in five years, according to a new FBI report.
The Bureau’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) received more than 2,000 complaints per day, according to ABC News.
According to the Bureau, the most commonly reported crimes were phishing expeditions, with 300,497 victims claiming over $52 million in losses in 2022.
Phishing, defined as “the use of unsolicited email, text messages, and telephone calls purportedly from a legitimate company requesting personal, financial, and/or login credentials,” is frequently successful because phishing emails will often resemble those from people victims know personally, prompting them to click on unsecured links.
According to the research, the second most popular internet scams in 2022 were data breaches and non-payment scams, which claimed 58,859 and 51,679 victims, respectively.
Ransomware, a sort of cyber intrusion that encrypts a device’s data until a ransom is paid, is of special concern for cybersecurity professionals due to the rarity of ransomware attack reports.
In 2022, the FBI “received 2,385 complaints known as ransomware with adjusted losses of more than $34.3 million,” according to the report.
“The IC3 has seen an increase in an additional extortion tactic used to facilitate ransomware. The threat actors pressure victims to pay by threatening to publish the stolen data if they do not pay the ransom,” the IC3 warned.
“The FBI does not encourage paying a ransom to criminal actors,” the report said.
“Paying a ransom may embolden adversaries to target additional organisations, encourage other criminal actors to engage in the distribution of ransomware, and/or fund illicit activities. Paying the ransom also does not guarantee that a victim’s files will be recovered.”
Earlier this year, the Justice Department disrupted a ransomware gang called HIVE, which was responsible for 87 incidents targeting critical infrastructure, the report says.
Call center scams are responsible for over $1 billion in losses to victims.
“Call centers overwhelmingly target the elderly, with devastating effects,” the report says. “Almost half the victims report to be over 60 (46%), and experience 69% of the losses (over $724 million).”
In total, the elderly lost $3.1 billion to internet scams in 2022, the most of any age group.