Beware Fraud, Report to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center
Cybercrimes are happening every day, all day. The FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) receives hundreds of thousands of complaints per year. In 2020, there were 791,790 complaints and of those complaints, twenty-eight percent were from people over 60 years of age. Their losses totaled over $1 billion of the $4.1 billion lost across all age demographics nationwide. U.S. elder losses also saw a $300 million increase since 2019, with an average loss of $9,175. Over nineteen hundred lost more than $100,000. Even if you are not over 60, beware of the following scams and exploits.
The top three crimes in order of number of losses:
Confidence fraud and romance – 6,817 victims $281 million
Though seventh in order of number of victims, confidence fraud and romance scams were the most lucrative for cybercriminals. Elder Americans vulnerable to confidence scams from strangers (romance, friendship, business opportunities). Beware of users with fake online identities who are corresponding by email, chat, or other means with you. Scammers can also use religion to gain your confidence.
Tech support – 9,429 victims $116 million
Beware the “tech support” popup window, call, or email. Illegitimate customer, security, or technical support or service. “Criminals may pose as support or service representatives offering to resolve such issues as a compromised email or bank account, a virus on a computer, or a software license renewal” (IC3).
Investment fraud – 1,062 victims $98 million
The third most lucrative scam is investment fraud. For those nearing or in retirement, the scammer can offer to “let them in to a great opportunity.” Beware of “low or no-risk investments, guaranteed returns, overly consistent returns, complex strategies, or unregistered securities… Examples of investment fraud include advance fee fraud, Ponzi schemes, pyramid schemes, and market manipulation fraud” (IC3).
Extortion – 23,100 victims $18 million
With the largest number of victims, the criminals who engage in this crime use the threat of physical/financial harm or doxing (acquiring a target’s private or identifying information and threatening to publish it on the internet) unless they pay up. This can typically happen through email, hitman or sextortion schemes, or threatening to release information to the government, like the IRS.
Non-payment or non-delivery – 14,534 victims $40 million
While we were all at home in 2020, those over 60 began to shop online more. Over 14,000 non-payment or non-delivery complaints resulted with losses over $40 million.
ID theft – With the 4th highest number of victims, this threat is still prevalent
Phishing (phony email links)/vishing (voice calls for information or scam)/smishing (scams or hacks by text message)/pharming (fake websites)
Spoofing (impersonating a legitimate entity by computer or device)
Personal data breach – along with ID theft, this can happen if your computer or data in an internet database is exposed or stolen
Misrepresentation – fraudulent statements to make the target enter a contract
Government impersonation – various government entities, like IRS for false tax payments
Remember the old maxim: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Be skeptical of bogus/scam emails, wary of strangers trying to get you to enter a romantic or business relationship, “tech support” saying your computer needs help, keeping your personal data safe, shopping at legitimate online sources, and using MalwareBytes for your computer protection. You can file a complaint with the ICS if you need to.