It could happen to you.
A new report from the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) says online theft, fraud, and exploitation caused losses of $2.7 billion dollars worldwide in 2018. This is up from $1.4 billion in 2017.
"The 2018 report shows how prevalent these crimes are. It also shows that the financial toll is substantial and a victim can be anyone who uses a connected device." said IC3 chief Donna Gregory in today's announcement.
The FBI's advice to any unlucky person who realizes they have been scammed online?
To improve the chances of a successful recovery, it is imperative that victims contact their bank immediately upon discovering a fraudulent transaction as well as report the crime to the IC3.
From the FBI's report:
In its annual Internet Crime Report, the FBI reports the IC3 received 351,936 complaints in 2018—an average of more than 900 every day. The most frequently reported complaints were for non-payment/non-delivery scams, extortion, and personal data breaches. The most financially costly complaints involved business email compromise, romance or confidence fraud, and investment scams, which can include Ponzi and pyramid schemes.
Reports came in from every U.S. state and territory and involved victims of every age. There was a concentration of victims and financial losses, however, among individuals over the age of 50.
"The 2018 report shows how prevalent these crimes are," said Donna Gregory, chief of the IC3. "It also shows that the financial toll is substantial and a victim can be anyone who uses a connected device. Awareness is one powerful tool in efforts to combat and prevent these crimes. Reporting is another. The more information that comes into the IC3, the better law enforcement is able to respond."
The bright spots reported by the IC3 include the establishment in February 2018 of the Recovery Asset Team and its success in recovering funds lost in business email compromise scams. These sophisticated scams involve perpetrators infiltrating businesses' email accounts and requesting fraudulent wire transfers or gift card purchases.
The Recovery Asset Team has helped streamline communication with financial institutions and assist FBI field offices in the recovery of funds for businesses that report a fraudulent domestic transfer. The team was able to successfully recover more than $192 million in funds—a recovery rate of 75 percent.
One recovery success came in Colorado, where a victim wired $56,179.27 for a home purchase to a thief after receiving a spoofed email request from the lending agent. The Recovery Asset Team worked with the Denver Field Office and the victim's bank to freeze the funds transfer and return $54,000 of the stolen money.