FBI says cybercriminals exploited COVID-19 to scam victims in 2020
The recent 2020 Internet Crime Report released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) ranked Nigeria 16th place and 2nd highest in Africa after South Africa who ranked 6th in its 2020 International Victim Countries.
According to the FBI, United Kingdom, Canada, India, Greece, Australia, South Africa, France, Germany, Mexico, Belgium, Brazil, Philippines, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Nigeria, Pakistan, China, Colombia and Hong Kong were ranked the top 20 countries.
The report revealed that the top three crimes reported by victims in 2020 were phishing scams, non-payment/non-delivery scams, and extortion. Victims lost the most money to business email compromise scams, romance and confidence schemes, and investment fraud. Notably, 2020 saw the emergence of scams exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic.
It revealed that there was also an increase in complaints received by Internet Crime Complaint Centre (IC3) with over 28,500 complaints related to COVID-19, with fraudsters targeting both businesses and individuals.
The FBI Deputy Director, Paul Abatte said criminals in 2020 “used phishing, spoofing, extortion, and various types of Internet-enabled fraud to target the most vulnerable in our society – medical workers searching for personal protective equipment, families looking for information about stimulus checks to help pay bills, and many others.”
He added: The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), received a record number of complaints from the American public in 2020: 791,790, with reported losses exceeding $4.1 billion.
This represents a 69% increase in total complaints from 2019. Business E-mail Compromise (BEC) schemes continued to be the costliest:19,369 complaints with an adjusted loss of approximately $1.8 billion. Phishing scams were also prominent: 241,342 complaints, with adjusted losses of over $54 million.
The number of ransomware incidents also continues to rise, with 2,474 incidents reported in 2020.
The FBI added that IC3 worked with its partners to successfully freeze approximately $380 million of the $462 million in reported losses in 2020, representing a success rate of nearly 82%.