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Cybercrime victims lost over $6.9 billion in 2021: FBI

People lost more than $6.9 billion to internet crime in 2021 out of the 847,376 internet crime complaints that were filed last year, an increase of over $2 billion and 7%, respectively, according to the FBI’s annual Internet Crime Report.

The report published on Tuesday details internet crime statistics as reported to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center. Ransomware, business e-mail compromise (BEC) schemes, and the criminal use of cryptocurrency is among the top incidents reported with BEC schemes resulting in 19,954 complaints and nearly $2.4 billion in losses alone. 

2021 saw a rapid rise in online crime primarily due to the COVID-19 pandemic that forced people into their work from home lifestyles. The report notes that as these practices were carried into 2021, so was the related cybercrime activity and the emergence of newer BEC/EAC schemes that exploited this reliance on virtual meetings. 

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More cybercrime, staggering losses

The report also compares the top five cybercrimes reported in 2021 with the last five years. The following numbers were reported.

CybercrimeTimes reported
Extortion39,360 times
Identity theft51,629 times
Personal Data Breach51,829 times
Non-payment/Non-delivery82,478 times
Phishing323,972 times

All the numbers mentioned above were higher in 2021 compared to previous years, except non-payment/non-delivery and extortion reports. The bureau also compared losses and overall complaints against the last five years. Between 2017 and 2021, the IC3 received 2.76 million complaints and estimated around $18.7 billion in losses. Out of this, 847,376 complaints and $6.9 billion in losses came out in 2021 alone. 

Cybercrime complaints over the last five years. | Source: FBI

Another popular internet scam last year was confidence fraud or romance scams. The IC3 received 24,299 reports last year with over $956 million in losses to these scams. These frauds accounted for the third-highest losses reported by victims.  

Crimes related to crypto also made the list. While the reported number of crimes, 34,202, was lesser than what was reported in 2020 (35,229), the losses increased nearly seven times from 2020 $246,212,432 to a staggering $1.6 billion in 2021. Ransomware was also a prominent issue last year, coming in at 3,729 complaints and over $49.2 million in losses.

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