FBI: Internet Crimes Such As Identity Theft, Phishing Bleed Americans Of Billions

(Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

Ashley Carnahan Contributor
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A 2020 year-end report from the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) acknowledged a record number of complaints from the American public about cybercrime.

FBI Deputy Director Paul Abbate said the IC3 received a “record number of complaints from the American public in 2020: 791,790, with reported losses exceeding $4.1 billion,” according to the 2020 Internet Crime Report.

This number represents a 69% increase from 2019, with more than 300,000 more complaints being made.

The top three complaints received were phishing scams, non-payment and non-delivery scams, and extortion. These totaled a loss of nearly $4.2 billion.

The report also mentioned the impact of COVID-19. “Fraudsters took the opportunity to exploit the pandemic to target both businesses and individuals,” the report read. (RELATED: CDC Warns: ‘Malicious Cyber Criminals’ Trying To ‘Takeover Healthcare IT Systems’)

In 2020, the FBI said it received over 28,500 complaints related to the pandemic alone. Complaints included fraud relating to unemployment insurance, Paycheck Protection Program loans and Small Business Economic Injury Disaster Loans.

“Unfortunately, criminals are very opportunistic. They see a vulnerable population out there that they can prey upon,” said FBI Section Chief Steven Merrill, Financial Crimes Section.

Founded in 2000, the goal of the IC3 is “to provide the public with a reliable and convenient reporting mechanism to submit information to the FBI concerning suspected Internet-facilitated criminal activity and to develop effective alliances with industry partners.”