- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Financial losses caused by cybercrimes reported to the FBI nearly doubled in 2018 over the year before, according to a government report released Monday.

The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) received 351,936 complaints in 2018 involving incidents that caused combined losses totaling $2.71 billion, the office said in its annual report.

By comparison, the IC3 received 301,580 complaints in 2017 totaling $1.42 billion in losses.

Formerly known as the FBI’s Internet Fraud Complaint Center, the IC3 has received more than 1.5 million reports worth roughly $7.45 billion in financial losses since being established in 2000 to help the public share and report suspected criminal activity such as online scams and schemes.

Both the most common and lucrative types of scams reported in 2018 were the same as the year before. Non-payment and non-delivery scams in which goods are shipped but not purchased or bought but not sent spurred 65,116 complaints.

A major portion of losses reported last year – $1.3 billion – resulted from so-called “Business Email Compromise” schemes in which victims are tricked into sending money to a person posing as someone else.

Among the incidents highlighted in the IC3’s latest report was a Business Email Compromise scheme that caused a town in New Jersey to wire more than $1 million to a fraudulent account, as well as scams in New York and Colorado where victims were separately duped into making purported real estate transactions worth more than $50,000 each.

“The 2018 report shows how prevalent these crimes are,” said Donna Gregory, head of the FBI’s IC3 unit. “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 FBI successfully retrieved more than $192 million stolen from cybercrime victims in 2018 through a new Recovery Asset Team established last February, according to the IC3 report.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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