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FBI says internet scams cost Americans $27 billion in last 5 years

The FBI’s new fraud report is brimming with bad news and affirmation that ANYONE can fall victim as scammers get savvier.

internet scams, image of person perpetrating a phishing scheme

Almost everyone knows someone who’s been hit by online scams – but with internet fraud becoming more prevalent by the day, you could be a victim yourself if you aren’t careful. Many think, “it could never happen to me.” While we’re sure you’re an intelligent little specimen, the truth is, it can happen to literally anyone. If there were ever a time to trust your gut, it’s now. 

In the last five years alone, people have lost over $27 billion dollars from internet scams.

Among the billions of dollars, 3.26 million complaints were filed. Phishing is the biggest one and you’ve likely seen many cases of this if you’re a regular internet user. Job posting scams are rampant right now and worse than ever. Ransomware is another significant issue.

According to a new internet crime report by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), they “received 2,385 complaints identified as ransomware with adjusted losses of more than $34.3 million. Ransomware is a type of malicious software, or malware, that encrypts data on a computer, making it unusable. In addition to encrypting the network, the cyber-criminal will often steal data off the system and hold that data hostage until the ransom is paid. If the ransom is not paid, the victim’s data remains unavailable.”

To protect yourself against ransomware, the FBI suggests you: 

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  • Make an offline backup of your data 
  • Update your software and operating system regularly
  • Implement phishing training exercises to raise awareness of the risks to employees 

The healthcare and public health sectors are currently the most affected by ransomware attacks. 

Call center fraud has been around for years but are claiming new victims at vicious rates every day. Tech support and government impersonation are common and make up over $1B in losses every year. Scam calls are primarily made from South Asia, particularly India. 

In 2022, Americans made an average of over 2,000 complaints about internet scams daily, totaling nearly 652,000 by the end of the year. There have been over 7.3 million complaints made since inception of the FBI’s monitoring of this activity.

The age group most likely to fall victim to phishing scams are people over 60, but again, they’ve gotten savvier and can trick just about anyone these days. The United States is #1 for international scam practices, with the UK following after, as both cultures desperately want to avoid being rude and are also known to be vulnerable due to fear.

California and Florida are two states with the highest count of losses- followed by Texas and New York. 

These statistics are alarming and paints a picture of how sophisticated internet scams are now. They aren’t as easy to spot as you may think – stay vigilant! 

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Macie LaCau is a passionate writer, herbal educator, and dog enthusiast. She spends most of her time overthinking and watering her tiny tomatoes.

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