The latest numbers compiled by the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) show scammers worldwide are stealing billions of dollars from Americans. Nationwide, the IC3 reports victims of common Internet scams lost more than $2.7 billion dollars last year. In Tennessee, that number is more than $28 million dollars. The statistics are part of the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center’s annual Internet Crime Report, reflecting 351,936 victims of suspected Internet crime who reported those losses to the Bureau.
In Tennessee, 5,584 individuals reported losses of $28,590,404, which ranks 23rd among the states in dollar loss. This number is almost double from the previous year’s figure at approximately $13 million dollars.
Nationwide, individuals aged 50 and older were the most at-risk population, losing more than $1.14 billion dollars.
The top three crime types reported by victims in 2018 were:
- Personal data breach
The Business email Compromise (BEC) scam nets the largest sums for scammers. BEC is a scam targeting businesses working with foreign suppliers and/or businesses regularly performing wire transfer payments. Email Account Compromise (EAC) is a similar scam that targets individuals. These sophisticated scams are carried out by fraudsters compromising email accounts through social engineering or computer intrusion techniques to conduct unauthorized transfers of funds.
In an effort to combat the scammers operating in Tennessee, the FBI’s Knoxville Field Office is one of 13 Task Forces within the bureau participating in Operation Wellspring. The initiative strengthens the cyber investigative capability and capacity of the state and local law enforcement community. Through close collaboration with FBI field offices, IC3 helps state and local law enforcement partners identify and respond to malicious cyber activity. In the Knoxville Field Office, the task force is composed of local and state officers from the Knox County Sheriff’s Office, Knoxville Police Department, University of Tennessee Police Department and Tennessee Highway Patrol/Criminal Investigation Division.
The IC3 provides the public with a reliable and convenient mechanism to report Internet crime. The IC3 categorizes and analyzes the data to identify and forecast trends to promote public awareness of emerging and ongoing cyber threats. Since its inception in 2000, the IC3 has received a total of 4,415,870 complaints. The quality of the data is a direct reflection of the information the public provides through the IC3 website.
The IC3 created the Recovery Asset Team in February 2018 in order to streamline communication with financial institutions and assist FBI field offices in recovering funds for victims who made transfers to domestic accounts under fraudulent pretenses. Between its creation on Feb. 2, 2018 and Dec. 31, 2018, the team assisted in 1,061 incidents involving losses of more than $257 million, ultimately recovering over $192 million – a 75 percent recovery rate.
The public should immediately report suspected criminal Internet activity to the IC3 at ic3.gov. By reporting Internet crime, victims are not only alerting law enforcement to the activity, but alo aiding in the overall fight against cybercrime.
In addition to the 2018 statistics, the report contains information about the IC3, the FBI’s work in combating Internet crime, and the most prevalent scams. The entire report is available at ic3.gov.