In 2022, the FBI reported that online scams had caused more than $10 billion in losses, the highest annual loss in the last five years. The report also found that the number of online scams had increased by 10 percent in that time period.
The FBI’s annual Internet Crime Report found that the more than $3 billion jump in reports of online fraud from 2021 to 2022 was driven by a near-tripling in reports of cryptocurrency investment fraud.
The report tallies a wide variety of fraud complaints – from marketing scams to ransomware – and is a valuable resource for US policymakers in measuring how much hacking and other schemes are costing the American economy.
The elderly are increasingly becoming targets of online scams. People over 60 accounted for $724 million, or more than two-thirds of the reported losses from “call center fraud,” according to the FBI. This type of fraud occurs when scammers call someone impersonating tech support or government agencies.
Ransomware, which locks computers until hackers are paid off, is on the rise. In fact, ransomware accounted for about $34 million in adjusted losses reported to the FBI last year. However, this relatively modest figure compared to other forms of fraud could be due to the fact that many victim organizations still do not report ransomware attacks to the FBI.
A popular type of ransomware called Hive was used in 87 attacks last year, according to the FBI. The bureau seized Hive operatives’ computer infrastructure earlier this year, but not before hackers affiliated with the ransomware extorted more than $100 million from hospitals, schools and other victims around the world. In a recent crackdown, the FBI managed to take down the ransomware’s masterminds, but the virus is still wreaking havoc on unsuspecting victims. In fact, the ransomware has already cost its victims more than $100 million in damages.
BEC schemes are becoming an increasingly popular way for cybercriminals to steal money from businesses. A BEC scheme typically involves someone tricking a victim into wiring them money, often by impersonating a customer or a relative. This type of scam can be very costly for businesses, as the average loss per incident is now over $140,000.
Last year, the city of Lexington, Kentucky, lost around $4 million in federal funding for housing assistance due to one of the more high-profile cases of BEC fraud.