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02/20/2020Internet fraud for you to know about

A new FBI report on Internet crime highlights the most devastating cybercrime with reported losses exceeding $3.5 billion in 2019.

The FBI based its report on 467,000 complaints by the public to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) in 2019.

SIM swapping is an emerging high-profile crime, the FBI cited in the report. In a SIM swap, a wireless carrier is tricked into switching the SIM linked to the subscriber to the criminal’s SIM. In one case based in San Francisco, the arrest of a SIM swapping group leader led to the seizure of over $18 million, five vehicles, a $900,000 home, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in jewelry, the FBI said in March 2019.

Here are the five Internet crimes the FBI is focusing on.

PHISHING 

This spans many categories of crimes. Victims of phishing and related crimes totaled 114,702 victims, by far the largest number, with losses totaling almost $58 million last year. Phishing is defined by the FBI as unsolicited email, text messages, and telephone calls purportedly from a legitimate company requesting personal, financial, and/or login credentials.

“For criminals, phishing is cheap, easy, difficult to trace, and often effective. It frequently leads to other types of attacks, including ransomware, data breaches, identity theft, and email account compromise,” Paul Bischoff, researcher and privacy advocate with Comparitech, which provides services for data security and privacy, told Fox News.

EMAIL COMPROMISE

In 2019, there were 23,775 business email compromise and email account compromise complaints with adjusted losses of over $1.7 billion. The aim of the crime is to transfer funds from a business or individual to the bad guy. This is done by compromising legitimate email accounts through social engineering or hacking.

The FBI cited specific crimes such as spoofed lawyer email accounts and fraudulent requests for W-2 information.

RANSOMWARE

In a ransomware attack, critical data and files are encrypted and locked, blocking access, until a ransom is paid. In 2019, the IC3 received 2,047 complaints identified as ransomware with adjusted losses of over $8.9 million. “Paying a ransom does not guarantee an organization will regain access to its data,” the FBI said, adding that organizations are often never provided with decryption keys after having paid a ransom.

The FBI did not cite one of the worst ransomware trends in 2019, the so-called Maze ransomware family. In this act, criminals typically threaten to publicize stolen data if victims do not pay the ransom

TECH SUPPORT FRAUD

In 2019, the IC3 received 13,633 complaints related to Tech Support Fraud. The losses amounted to over $54 million, jumping 40 percent over 2018. The majority of victims were over 60 years of age.

In one case cited by the FBI, a North Carolina man stole more than $3 million from hundreds of victims, duping them into paying for purported “technical support” services to resolve the issue.

ELDER FRAUD

This financial fraud targets those over the age of 60. In 2019, the IC3 received 68,013 complaints from victims with adjusted losses in excess of $835 million. The most common crimes include investment fraud, romance scams, tech support scams, government impersonation scams, and family/caregiver scams.

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