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Earlier this year, the FBI released the Internet Crime Complaint Center 2020 Internet Crime Report (the “FBI Crime Report”), which included CoVID scam statistics. The FBI assessed 791,790 complaints of suspected crimes on the Internet. This was an increase of more than 300,000 complaints from 2019.  Reported losses were in excess of $4.2 billion. The FBI Crime Report also provides useful and relevant information about prevention and protection. In addition, it includes a number of case studies making it easy to understand the many ways scammers access information

Internet Crime. FBI Crime Report – 2020 State Reports.  

The top 10 states by the number of victims are California, Florida, Texas, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Washington, Nevada, New Jersey, Maryland. The top 10 states by victim loss are California, New York, Texas Florida, Ohio, Illinois, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Colorado.

Internet Crime —Top Crimes

The FBI found the following crimes to be among the most often committed against victims in 2020. The full FBI Crime Report gives a complete list:

  1. Phishing/Vishing/Smishing/Pharming  …………………………  241,342 victims
  2. Non-Payment/Non-Delivery …………………………….………. 108,869 victims
  3. Extortion……………………………………………………………… 76,741 victims
  4. Personal Data Breach …………………………………………….   45,330 victims
  5. Identity Theft …………………………………………………….…   43,330 victims
  6. Spoofing ……………………………………………………………..  28,218 victims
  7. Misrepresentation …………………………………………………   24,276 victims
  8. Confidence Fraud/Romance ………………………………… .….  23,751 victims
  9. Harassment/Threats of Violence ………………………………….  20,604 victims
  10. Tech Support ………………………………………………………… 15,421 victims

The FBI Crime Report—Money Lost

The FBI Crime Report also revealed that most victims lost money through a variety of scams, in particular:

  1. Business email compromise scams …………………………..….. $1,866,642,107
  2. Confidence Fraud/Romance ………………………………………….$600,249,821
  3. Investment fraud……………………………………………………..…$336,469,000
  4. Non-Payment/Non-Delivery …………………………………………..$265,011,249
  5. Identity Theft ……………………………………………………………$219,484,699
  6. Spoofing …………………..………………………………………..$216,513,728
  7. Real Estate/Rental …..…………………………………………$213,196,082
  8. Personal Data Breach ………………………………………….$194,473,055
  9. Tech Support ……………………………………………………$146,477,709
  10. Credit Card Fraud …………………………………………….$129,820,792

And not surprisingly, 2020 ushered in the emergence of scams exploiting the CoVID pandemic. The FBI received over 28,500 complaints relating to COVID, with fraudsters targeting both businesses and individuals.

Internet Crime. What To Do If Scammers Get In?

Now is the time to create a plan of action, not after you get scammed. But in case you waited, here are some things to do if a scammer manages to access your computer or other device:

  1. Contact an attorney right away. Make sure it is a lawyer who understands how to deal with such matters. This will also allow any conversations you have to be protected by the attorney/client privilege. If you have insurance, contact your agent first. They may be able to provide you with an attorney.
  2. Take all communications offline. If at all possible, meet in person. If it’s not possible to have face to face meetings, use the phone.
  3. Immediately disconnect infected devices from your network.
  4. Maintain all logs. Do NOT delete. This will enable you or the FBI to trace the source.
  5. Consider having YOUR attorney hire forensic consultant. It is critical that your lawyer hire the expert and not you. This will help to preserve privilege.
  6. Notify the police and file a victim report.
  7. Immediately change passwords after the infected device is removed from the network.

Francine D. Ward
Attorney-At-Law, Author, Speaker

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