In 2022, internet scams resulted in Americans losing a staggering $10.3 billion, according to the FBI’s annual report. The losses incurred were the highest in the past five years, with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) receiving over 2,000 complaints daily. Phishing scams were the most commonly reported, with 300,497 victims reporting losses exceeding $52 million. This is because victims often click on insecure links after receiving emails that appear to be from people they know.
Data breaches and non-payment frauds were the second most common types of online scams, affecting 58,859 and 51,679 victims, respectively. Ransomware is a type of cyber-attack that encrypts a device’s data and demands a ransom payment, making it a significant cause for concern. Experts fear that victims tend to underreport intrusions, making it difficult to recover from such attacks. The FBI received 2,385 ransomware reports, with losses exceeding $34.3 million in 2022, reported ABC News.
The IC3 has reported an increase in the use of a different extortion technique to support ransomware attacks. Threat actors threaten to publish stolen material to coerce victims into paying the ransom. Ransomware attacks most frequently targeted the healthcare sector, followed by vital manufacturing and government entities. The report warns against paying the ransom, as it could inspire other criminals to spread ransomware and/or fund illegal actions. Additionally, paying the ransom does not guarantee the return of the victim’s files.
The Justice Department has recently dismantled the HIVE ransomware gang, responsible for 87 attacks on key infrastructure, resulting in losses of around $1 billion. Call center frauds originating in India have led to losses of over $1 billion, with the elderly being disproportionately targeted. They suffered the greatest losses from online fraud in 2022, totaling $3.1 billion. However, the FBI has a 73% success rate in recovering funds for victims.
Photo: Shinsuke Ikegame, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons