Internet-enabled crimes and scams show no signs of letting up, according to data released by the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) in its newly released 2019 Internet Crime Report. The last calendar year saw both the highest number of complaints and the highest dollar losses reported since the center was established in May 2000.
IC3 received 467,361 complaints in 2019—an average of nearly 1,300 every day—and recorded more than $3.5 billion in losses to individual and business victims. The most frequently reported complaints were phishing and similar ploys, non-payment/non-delivery scams, and extortion. The most financially costly complaints involved business email compromise, romance or confidence fraud, and spoofing, or mimicking the account of a person or vendor known to the victim to gather personal or financial information.
“Criminals are getting so sophisticated,” said IC3 chief Donna Gregory. “It is getting harder and harder for victims to spot the red flags and tell real from fake.”
In the last year, IC3 reported seeing an increase in the number of Business Email Compromise (BEC) complaints related to the diversion of payroll funds. These scams typically involve a criminal spoofing or mimicking a legitimate email address. For example, an individual will receive a message that appears to be from an executive within their company or a business with which an individual has a relationship. The email will request a payment, wire transfer, or gift card purchase that seems legitimate but actually funnels money directly to a criminal.
In 2019, IC3 recorded 23,775 complaints about BEC, which resulted in more than $1.7 billion in losses.
Channel partners need to be increasingly vigilant about new attack vectors like BECs and communicate those risks to the companies they serve.