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FBI says victims lost billions to cybercrime in 2019

(Image credit: Image Credit: Evannovostro / Shutterstock)

Cybercrime cost American customers and businesses $3.5 billion last year, according to fresh figures from the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Centre (IC3). These billions were split among a total of 467,361 complaints that the Centre received during last year.

Most often, people were complaining about phishing, non-payment and non-delivery scams and ransomware/extortion, the report said, adding that email compromise (opens in new tab), romance and confidence fraud and identity spoofing were most costly, from a financial perspective.

Donna Gregory, the chief of IC3 said that the Centre did not see that many new methods of cybercrime, but it did spot increased effort to avoid being detected.

"Criminals are getting so sophisticated," Gregory said. "It is getting harder and harder for victims to spot the red flags and tell real from fake."

"In the same way your bank and online accounts have started to require two-factor authentication — apply that to your life. Verify requests in person or by phone, double-check web and email addresses, and don’t follow the links provided in any messages."

Business Email Compromise, or BEC (opens in new tab), was the type of crime with the highest reported victim losses, hitting almost $1.8 billion in 23,775 complaints.

"These scams typically involve a criminal spoofing or mimicking a legitimate email address," the report says. "For example, an individual will receive a message that appears to be from an executive within their company or a business with which an individual has a relationship.”

The FBI’s full report can be found on this link (opens in new tab).

Sead Fadilpašić is a freelance tech writer and journalist with more than 17 years experience writing technology-focussed news, blogs, whitepapers, reviews, and ebooks. And his work has featured in online media outlets from all over the world, including Al Jazeera Balkans (where he was a Multimedia Journalist), Crypto News, TechRadar Pro, and IT Pro Portal, where he has written news and features for over five years. Sead's experience also includes writing for inbound marketing, where he creates technology-based content for clients from London to Singapore. Sead is a HubSpot-certified content creator.