The Scope of Cyber Crime, through the Eyes of the FBI

It is not news that Cyber Crime is a huge problem.  It is news, however, when the FBI releases statistics about how huge the problem actually is. The FBI’s IC3 (Internet Crime Complaint Center) recently released its 2019 Internet Crime Report.  It is revealing.  For example, the FBI received over 467,361 complaints about suspected Internet crime, with losses totaling over $3.5 billion.

The top three crime reported by victims last year were a) extortion, b) non-payment or non-delivery and c) phishing.

A Swarm of Complaints

The FBI reported that it receives 1,300 complaints a day. The costliest crimes relate to spoofing, business email compromise, confidence fraud, romance fraud, and account mimicry to collect financial or other sensitive information.

Business email compromise saw an uptick to 23,775 complaints, yielding losses of more than $1.7 billion in 2019 alone. Phishing and related crimes accounted for around $500 per complaint in losses, while ransomware accounted for $4,400 per incident.

The Importance of Reporting

Most cyber crime goes unreported.  Therefore, the statistics reported by the FBI are merely the tip of the iceberg.  Victims are often hesitant to report crimes that make them look gullible or which might reveal embarrassing behaviors on their part.  Simultaneously, the vast scope of cyber crime and the anonymity that often protects the perpetrators most likely discourages victims from coming forward.

Nevertheless, reporting cyber crime is important.  Authorities cannot tackle it effectively if they don’t know about it.

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Ronald K. Noble is the founder of RKN Global and currently serves as one of its principal consultants.