The answer to the question “do internet crimes happen in my state?” is: “Yes.” We see that just by looking at the constant news of new data breaches and other internet crime news reports. The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center also publishes data on how common internet crimes are by each state.
The top states with victims are:
- New York
But every single state in the United States sees victims, according to the FBI. The most common internet crimes are:
- Personal data breach
- Confidence fraud/romance
- Identify theft
In the last five years reported by the FBI (2015 – 2019) the total losses were $10.2 billion with 1.7 million complaints received. Of course, the report only lists incidents that are reported to the FBI. The actual number of internet crimes committed in the United States is likely much higher.
The FBI’s center does not require complainants to disclose their age. Of those that did, the age group over age 60 had the most reported cases with the biggest loss – $835 million.
Ages 30-39 had the second most number of complaints while ages 50-59 had the second most dollar loss with $589 million lost.
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What internet crimes net the most financial losses?
The largest dollar amount in internet crimes came from business email compromise (BEC) or email account compromise (EAC) with loss of over $1.7 billion.
The FBI shares how these scams have evolved:
BEC/EAC is constantly evolving as scammers become more sophisticated. In 2013, BEC/EAC
scams routinely began with the hacking or spoofing of the email accounts of chief executive
officers or chief financial officers, and fraudulent emails were sent requesting wire payments
be sent to fraudulent locations. Over the years, the scam evolved to include compromise of
personal emails, compromise of vendor emails, spoofed lawyer email accounts, requests for
W-2 information, the targeting of the real estate sector, and fraudulent requests for large
amounts of gift cards.
In 2019, the IC3 observed an increase in the number of BEC/EAC complaints related to the
diversion of payroll funds. In this type of scheme, a company’s human resources or payroll
department receives an email appearing to be from an employee requesting to update their
direct deposit information for the current pay period. The new direct deposit information
generally routes to a pre-paid card account
Is ransomware still a problem?
In short: Yes. We’ve written about ransomware before here. Ransomware, which is a form of malware, targets organizations and employees, making employee training important, per the FBI.
Andrew Lassise and Della Hudson discuss the importance of employee training toward the end of this episode of our podcast.
Should organizations pay the ransom demand?
Here’s what the FBI says in its report about that:
The FBI advises not to pay the ransom to the adversary. Paying a ransom does not guarantee
an organization will regain access to its data; in fact, some individuals or organizations were
never provided with decryption keys after having paid a ransom. Paying a ransom emboldens
the adversary to target other organizations for profit, and provides a lucrative environment for
While the FBI does not support paying a ransom, there is an understanding that when businesses are faced with an inability to function, executives will evaluate all options
to protect their shareholders, employees, and customers.
In 2019, the Internet Crime Complaint Center received over 2,000 reports of ransomware with losses of almost $9 million.