Mid-valley scam alert: FBI releases 2021 internet crime report | Local

The FBI has released its Internet Crime Complaint Center 2021 Internet Crime Report, so I wanted to take the opportunity to discover which internet scams are on the rise, so we can all try our best to prepare and be aware.

In this edition of the Mid-Valley Scam Alert, I’ll be breaking down the FBI’s report and highlighting what to look out for this year. This column may be a bit longer than usual, but I hope you’ll find it interesting and informative.

It should come as no surprise that phishing and smishing are on the rise.

If you recall from previous columns, phishing occurs when scammers attempt to lure victims using fraudulent messages, often with links. The term is usually associated with email scams.

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But now there’s also smishing, which is a combination of SMS (short message service) and phishing. This means con artists use text messages with fake links to try to get you to reveal personal information.

The FBI report indicates that there were 323,972 victims of phishing and other related scams in 2021. That’s up from 2020, when there were 241,342 victims. With these types of frauds becoming so prevalent, it’s as important as ever to stay vigilant and never click on a link that seems fishy.

Quick facts

Let’s start with some key stats from the report.

The report includes information from 847,376 complaints of suspected internet crime. This is a 7% increase from 2020. Victims reported losses around $6.9 billion.

Top three cybercrimes reported by victims in 2021:

  1. Phishing (323,972 victims)
  2. Nonpayment/nondelivery scams (82,478 victims)
  3. Personal data breach (51,829 victims)

Top three scams with highest reported victim losses

  1. Business email compromise scams (about $2.4 billion)
  2. Investment fraud (about $1.5 billion)
  3. Romance/confidence schemes (about $956 million)

Victims younger than of 20 made up 14,919 of the complaints and accounted for $101.4 million in losses. Those 20-29 years old filed 69,390 complaints and reported $431.1 million in losses. The 30-39 age group represented 88,448 complaints and $937.3 million in losses.

Those between the ages of 40 and 49 were responsible for 89,184 complaints and $1.19 billion in losses. The 50-59 age group made up 74,460 complaints and accounted for $1.26 billion in losses. Finally those 60 years old and older made up 92,371 of the complaints and reported $1.68 billion in losses.

Featured frauds

Although I don’t have the ability to break down every type of fraud or scam accounted for in the report, I want to shed some light on a few that are growing in popularity.

Business email compromise scams resulted in the highest amount of total losses in 2021. So what exactly does this fraud look like?

This type of scheme targets businesses and individuals who perform transfers of funds. The shady character will get a subject to compromise legitimate business email accounts so the transfer can go directly to the scam artist.

In the past, the fraud involved hacking or spoofing business email accounts. Now, it can involve schemers using virtual meeting platforms to hack emails and pretend to be business leaders and initiate the wire transfers.

Another scam that’s becoming more frequent is nonpayment/nondelivery.

Nonpayment scams refer to good and services being shipped but payment never rendered. In this case, the victim is a seller and they ship a good without being properly compensated for it. Nondelivery fraud, on the other hand, involves a victim buying a good but never receiving it.

One more scam I want to highlight is tech support fraud. As the name suggests, this scheme involves a criminal posing as a customer service or technical support representative. During such a scam, bad actors will try to get you to reveal sensitive information so that they can help resolve a fake problem like being locked out of your bank account.

Oregon numbers

The FBI also published individual state reports. Here are a few highlights from the Oregon data, which differ slightly from national trends:

  • Nonpayment/nondelivery accounted for the highest number of victims (1,083)
  • The fraud with the highest total amount of losses was business email compromise scams (around $23.4 million)
  • Those 60 years old and older accounted for the highest number of victims (1,513)
  • Those aged 40-49 reported the highest total number of losses (nearly $21 million)

This column just scratches the surface of the FBI data, so I encourage you to check out the full report if you want to see which other scams are on the rise. As always, knowing what to look out for can make all the difference. Let’s try to bring the number of scam victims down in 2022.

Maddie Pfeifer covers public safety for Mid-Valley Media. She can be contacted at 541-812-6091 or Madison.Pfeifer@lee.net. Follow her on Twitter via @maddiepfeifer_

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