Data Shows Phishing Scams Went Up By 12 Folds In The Last 5 Years

While we are living in times where all of us are now very well aware of phishing scams, this new phenomenon also reflects greatly in numbers as well as according to a recent analysis shows, the cases of phishing in the US increased 12 times during the span of last five years.

Moreover, in 2020 alone there were 241,342 complaints recorded by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) branch known as the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).

After coming into existence in May 2000 IC3 receives complaints of crimes that take place on the internet and therefore the organization has put phishing/vishing/smishing/pharming into the similar category as almost all of them occur via email, text messages, and telephone calls. The attackers also pretend to be a legitimate company all for the sake of extracting sensitive personal and financial information from the target - including login credentials as well.

The numbers over the years have been alarming as in 2016 the FBI's crime center got 19,465 phishing reports whereas in 2020 there was an 1140% increase in comparison. The monetary damage also totaled to $54 million last year.

The biggest year-by-year jump took place between 2018-2019 as in the former year there were 26,379 reports but the numbers spiked up to 114,702 in 2019 - resulting in a 335% surge, overall.

The report has blamed the COVID-19 pandemic for the record number of hike in phishing attacks as they think the cybercriminals took great advantage of the way people became more dependent on tech gadgets for survival.

Types of Internet Crimes in 2020

In the US alone, the Federal Bureau of Investigations received 791,791 reports in 2020 while comprising of a 69% growth from the previous year 2019.

The losses that occurred because of crimes on the internet also went up by $700 million ($3.5 billion in 2019 to $4.2 billion in 2020).

People in the US were mostly attacked by phishing/vishing/smishing/pharming scams. The second most common internet crime has been non-payment or non-delivery with 108,889 cases reported in 2020 and also reaching up to a loss of $265 million.

Third, on the list came extortion with $76,741 complaints and also aggregating up to a financial loss of $71 million. Breaches of personal information also went up to 45,330 reports and $194 million monetary damages.

The ever-increasing cases of Identity theft also appeared in the list on the fifth position with 43,330 complaints and $219 million in losses.

Spoofing stood sixth with 217 million in losses arising because of 28,218 reports.

7th spent went to the misrepresentation scams as IC3 received 24,276 complaints with over $20 million in monetary damages being reported.

Romance and confidence fraud has also been on the rise with 23,751 people falling for it and losing $600 million in 2020 altogether.

Last but not the least, online harassment and threats of violence concluded the list with 7 million in damages and 20,604 reports.

There were Business Email Compromise (BEC) and Email Account Compromise (EAC) scams as well causing $1.87 billion in damages from 19,369 complaints. For those of you who are not aware of BEC/EAC scams, they are much more sophisticated attacks with businesses or individuals being their prime target. The attacker gets successful when the target is convinced to carry out a sequence of actions via business email accounts and that eventually often results into an unauthorized transfer of funds.

Surprisingly the cases reported by the Federal Bureau of Investigations of BEC/EAC had funds converted into cryptocurrencies. The reason behind it is simple and that is when funds are converted into cryptocurrencies, one cannot easily track a transaction considering the countless number of wallets and payment processors involved.

All in all, it is time to be more alert than ever because no one among us on the internet is unfortunately safe!

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