According to a report by the FBI published this month, American citizens fell victim to internet scams and lost a staggering $10.3 billion in 2022.
This marks the highest amount of losses in the past five years. The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center received over 2,000 complaints per day, as reported by ABC News on Tuesday.
Phishing expeditions were the most common crimes reported, with 300,497 victims suffering losses amounting to over $52 million in 2022, according to the FBI.
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.
Data breaches and non-payment scams were the next most common internet scams in 2022, claiming 58,859 and 51,679 victims, respectively, per the report.
Ransomware, a type of cyber intrusion which locks up a device’s data until a ransom is paid, is of particular concern for cybersecurity professionals due to the underreporting of ransomware attacks by victims.
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.
It has also revealed that the most heavily targeted industry for ransomware attacks was the healthcare industry, followed by critical manufacturing and government.
“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, which emanated from India mainly, 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).”
According to the report, the elderly were the age group that lost the most to internet scams in 2022, with a total of $3.1 billion.
Additionally, the report states that the FBI has been successful in recovering funds for victims with a 73% success rate.