According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation or FBI, complaints concerning online scams and investment fraud now reached a record-breaking level.
The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center or IC3 channel have received more than six million complaints filed related to cybercrime last May 15, 2021. The first one million complaints reports took 7 seven years to accumulate, while from the previous year to now, it only took 14 months to get the next million.
Annual complaint volumes increased by almost 70% between 2019 and 2020. The majority of the reported cybercrime was phishing scams and schemes while using non-payment, non-delivery, and extortion attempts as their tactic.
In 2020, few months after the coronavirus pandemic started, online scammers and hackers introduced new scams, many of which are centered around fake coronavirus vaccination appointment requests, delivery transactions, financial statements, or bank alerts notifications. Scammers definitely see this as an opportunity to carry out devious activities when most industries shift to a stay-at-home staff setup. There are also spam campaigns sent under the name of well-known agencies such as the World Health Organization (WHO).
IC3 summarized a report and said that the three forms of online scams below are most successful:
Business email compromise, also known as BEC scams, is usually centered around social engineering and phishing. They target businesses and attempt to dupe staff into paying non-existent services, leading to money transfers belonging to a business to an account controlled by cybercriminals.
Romance and confidence scams, the kind of scams that pull their victims’ heartstrings by cybercriminals while they adopt a fake online identity. This leads to pressure victims into sending money, as well as sextortion. Recently, there are cases reported by the UK police that include scammers conducting video chats with potential online ‘matches,’ asking the victims to perform sexual activities on camera, and then blackmailing them for money.
Last January, Interpol warned on the increase of dating app profiles being used by fraudsters to initially connect to potential victims, conning them into signing up to fake investment opportunities as soon as trust is established.
Investment frauds, this kind of online scam can include dump-and-dump schemes toward investing in worthless stocks, as well as cryptocurrency and other investment plans that promise its victims guaranteed returns beyond their initial investments.
Last May 17, The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warned consumers had lost $80 million to crypto current investment scams since October 2020.
The rising concern in cryptocurrency is acknowledged by well-known people, including Elon Musk, whose renewed interest in cryptocurrency investing has increased crypto-related scams.
FTC reported that close to 7,000 reports related to cryptocurrency fraud were received from consumers in the US between the fourth quarter of 2020 and the first quarter of 2021. Amounting to $1,900 as the average loss per victim.