FBI IC3 report: Cybercrime caused massive financial damage in 2018

According to a new report released by the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), cybercrime was responsible for $2.7 billion in financial losses during 2018. The data was collected from 351,936 complaints submitted to the IC3, and in turn, was able to give a larger picture of where security professionals and law enforcement can focus their efforts in the future. The complaints analyzed originated in every U.S. state and the demographics behind the complaints were diverse (to quote the FBI they “involved victims of every age”). Of interest, however, was the data also showed that the most affected age group was 50-plus.

The report zeros in on multiple problem areas that cause the most damage, and unfortunately, they are types of crime that security professionals have dealt with for some time. The first of these problem areas is business email compromise (sometimes abbreviated as BEC). IC3 statistics show the following about BEC incidents in 2018:

In 2018, the IC3 received 20,373 BEC/E-mail Account Compromise (EAC) complaints with adjusted losses of over $1.2 billion... the IC3 received an increase in the number of BEC/EAC complaints requesting victims purchase gift cards. The victims received a spoofed email, a spoofed phone call or a spoofed text from a person in authority requesting the victim purchase multiple gift cards for either personal or business reasons.

Next on the report’s list of major areas of concern (in terms of financial loss) was the classic Payroll Diversion scheme. In 2018 the IC3 report shows that $100 million of damage was done with an alarmingly low complaint number of just 100 people. Nevertheless, just 100 people were needed to fall for the phishing emails that social engineers send out with hopes of gaining login credentials and stealing business funds via the victim’s payroll.

Probably the most frustrating appearance on the report, simply because it is infuriating that people still fall for it, is Tech Support Fraud. No matter how dodgy the source, people are still allowing themselves to be duped into such a well-covered scheme (especially in the news). The report says the following about the financial damage done:

In 2018, the IC3 received 14,408 complaints related to tech support fraud from victims in 48 countries. The losses amounted to nearly $39 million, which represents a 161% increase in losses from 2017. The majority of victims reported to be over 60 years of age.

There are numerous other sources of financial damage found in the full report, but the ones listed are vital to know among all the others as they are incredibly preventable. The more educated the general populace is about various cybercriminal schemes, the more likely they are to deter the individuals committing the crime. A scheme is only as successful as the profit it is able to generate.

Featured image: Flickr / Tony Hisgett

Derek Kortepeter

Derek Kortepeter is a graduate of UCLA and tech journalist that is committed to creating an informed society with regards to Information Security. Kortepeter specializes in areas such as penetration testing, cryptography, cyber warfare, and governmental InfoSec policy.

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