(Last Updated On: May 1, 2021)

FBIFBI FBI - Federal Bureau of Investigation The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the domestic intelligence and security service of the United States and its principal federal law enforcement agency. Operating under the jurisdiction of the United States Department of Justice, the FBI is also a member of the U.S. Intelligence Community and reports to both the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence. A leading U.S. counter-terrorism, counterintelligence, and criminal investigative organization, the FBI has jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crimes, including financial fraud. Releases 2020 Internet Crime Report

In 2020, while the American public was focused on protecting our families from a global pandemic and helping others in need, cybercriminals took advantage of an opportunity to profit from our dependence on technology to go on an Internet crime spree.

These criminals used phishing, spoofingSpoofing Spoofing occurs when a caller maliciously transmits false caller ID information to increase the likelihood that you'll answer. Scammers often spoof local numbers, private companies, government agencies and other institutions. It can also apply to pretending to be an email address, or through other media., extortion, and various types of Internet-enabled fraudFraud In law, fraud is intentional deception to secure unfair or unlawful gain (money or other assets), or to deprive a victim of a legal right. Fraud can violate civil law (e.g., a fraud victim may sue the fraud perpetrator to avoid the fraud or recover monetary compensation) or criminal law (e.g., a fraud perpetrator may be prosecuted and imprisoned by governmental authorities), or it may cause no loss of money, property, or legal right but still be an element of another civil or criminal wrong. The purpose of fraud may be monetary gain or other benefits, for example by obtaining a passport, travel document, or driver's license, or mortgage fraud, where the perpetrator may attempt to qualify for a mortgage by way of false statements. A fraud can also be a hoax, which is a distinct concept that involves deliberate deception without the intention of gain or of materially damaging or depriving a victim. 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.

FBI Releases the Internet Crime Complaint Center 2020 Internet Crime Report, Including COVID-19 ScamScam A Scam is a confidence trick - a crime -  is an attempt to defraud a person or group after first gaining their trust through deception. Scams or confidence tricks exploit victims using their credulity, naïveté, compassion, vanity, irresponsibility, or greed and exploiting that. Researchers have defined confidence tricks as "a distinctive species of fraudulent conduct ... intending to further voluntary exchanges that are not mutually beneficial", as they "benefit con operators ('con men' - criminals) at the expense of their victims (the 'marks')". A scam is a crime even if no money was lost. Statistics

The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center has released its annual report. The 2020 Internet Crime Report includes information from 791,790 complaints of suspected internet crime—an increase of more than 300,000 complaints from 2019—and reported losses exceeding $4.2 billion. State-specific statistics have also been released and can be found within the 2020 Internet Crime Report and in the accompanying 2020 State Reports.

The top three crimes reported by victims in 2020 were phishing scamsScams A Scam is a confidence trick - a crime -  is an attempt to defraud a person or group after first gaining their trust through deception. Scams or confidence tricks exploit victims using their credulity, naïveté, compassion, vanity, irresponsibility, or greed and exploiting that. Researchers have defined confidence tricks as "a distinctive species of fraudulent conduct ... intending to further voluntary exchanges that are not mutually beneficial", as they "benefit con operators ('con men' - criminals) at the expense of their victims (the 'marks')". A scam is a crime even if no money was lost., 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. The IC3 received over 28,500 complaints related to COVID-19, with fraudsters targeting both businesses and individuals.

In addition to statistics, the IC3’s 2020 Internet Crime Report contains information about the most prevalent internet scams affecting the public and offers guidance for prevention and protection. It also highlights the FBI’s work combating internet crime, including recent case examples. Finally, the 2020 Internet Crime Report explains the IC3, its mission, and functions.

The IC3 gives the public a reliable and convenient mechanism to report suspected internet crime to the FBI. The FBI analyzes and shares information from submitted complaints for investigative and intelligence purposes, for law enforcement, and for public awareness.

With the release of the 2020 Internet Crime Report, the FBI wants to remind the public to immediately report suspected criminalCriminal A criminal is any person who through a decision or act engages in a crime. This can be complicated, as many people break laws unknowingly, however, in our context, it is a person who makes a decision to engage in unlawful acts or to place themselves with others who do this. A criminal always has the ability to decide not to break the law, or if they initially engage in crime to stop doing it, but instead continues. internet activity to the IC3 at ic3.gov. By reporting internet crime, victims are not only alerting law enforcement to the activity, but aiding in the overall fight against cybercrimeCybercrime Cybercrime is a crime related to technology, computers, and the Internet. Typical cybercrime are performed by a computer against a computer, or by a hacker using software to attack computers or networks..

2020 FBI IC3 Report Numbers Are Under-Reported

Top 33 Cyber-related Crimes Per The FBI IC3 Report

As you can see in the following table, FBI reporting is massively below realistic actual numbers. Furthermore, that alters the priorities and leads to mistakes in FBI prioritization of cyber-related crimes.

2020 IC3 Report CRIME TYPES By Victim Count

1 Phishing/VishingVishing What is a vishing attack? Vishing is the social engineering approach that leverages voice communication. This technique can be combined with other forms of social engineering that entice a victim to call a certain number and divulge sensitive information. Advanced vishing attacks can take place completely over voice communications by exploiting Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) solutions and broadcasting services. VoIP easily allows caller identity (ID) to be spoofed, which can take advantage of the public’s misplaced trust in the security of phone services, especially landline services. Landline communication cannot be intercepted without physical access to the line; however, this trait is not beneficial when communicating directly with a malicious actor./SmishingSmishing What is a smishing attack? Smishing is a form of social engineering that exploits SMS, or text, messages. Text messages can contain links to such things as webpages, email addresses or phone numbers that when clicked may automatically open a browser window or email message or dial a number. This integration of email, voice, text message, and web browser functionality increases the likelihood that users will fall victim to engineered malicious activity./PharmingPharming When hackers use malicious programs to route you to their own sites — even though you've correctly typed in the address of a site you want to visit. The software stealthily diverts you to a look-alike destination, typically with the goal of gathering personal information for identity theft. 241,342
2 Non-Payment/Non-Delivery 108,869
3 Extortion 76,741
4 Personal Data BreachData Breach Whenever private information is seen by someone who should not have access, this is known as data exposure. It may also sometimes be referred to as a data leak or data breach. It might happen by accident or be caused by hackers who do it to cause harm to the individual or organization involved. It can be especially damaging to companies that store the credit card details and personal information of their customers. 45,330
5 Identity TheftIdentity Theft Identity theft is when someone uses another person's personal identifying information, without their permission, to commit fraud or other crimes. In both the U.K. and the United States it is the theft of personally identifiable information. Identity theft deliberately uses someone else's identity as a method to gain financial advantages or obtain credit and other benefits, and perhaps to cause other person's loss. The person whose identity has been stolen may suffer adverse consequences, especially if they are falsely held responsible for the perpetrator's actions. Personally identifiable information generally includes a person's name, date of birth, social security number, driver's license number, bank account or credit card numbers, PINs, electronic signatures, fingerprints, passwords, or any other information that can be used to access a person's financial resources. 43,330
6 Spoofing 28,218
7 Misrepresentation 24,276
8 Confidence Fraud/Romance 23,751
9 Harassment/Threats of Violence 20,604
10 BEC/EAC 19,369
11 Credit Card FraudCard Fraud Card Fraud is one of the most commonly referenced fraud definitions. It occurs when a fraudster uses a card (debit or credit) to make a purchase without the authorization of the cardholder. Card fraud can occur in-person or through digital channels. 17,614
12 Employment 16,879
13 Tech Support 15,421
14 Real Estate/Rental 13,638
15 Advanced Fee 13,020
16 Government ImpersonationImpersonation An impersonator is someone who imitates or copies the behavior or actions of another. There are many reasons for impersonating someone, such as: part of a criminal act such as identity theft, online impersonation scam, or other fraud. This is usually where the criminal is trying to assume the identity of another, in order to commit fraud, such as accessing confidential information or to gain property not belonging to them. Also known as social engineering and impostors. 12,827
17  Other 10,372
18  Lottery/Sweepstakes/Inheritance 8,501
19  Investment 8,788
20  IPR/Copyright and Counterfeit 4,213
21 Crimes Against Children 3,202
22  Corporate Data Breach 2,794
23  RansomwareRansomware Ransomware is a type of malware from cryptovirology that threatens to publish the victim's personal data or perpetually block access to it unless a ransom is paid. While some simple ransomware may lock the system so that it is not difficult for a knowledgeable person to reverse, more advanced malware uses a technique called cryptoviral extortion. It encrypts the victim's files, making them inaccessible, and demands a ransom payment to decrypt them. In a properly implemented cryptoviral extortion attack, recovering the files without the decryption key is an intractable problem – and difficult to trace digital currencies such as paysafecard or Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies that are used for the ransoms, making tracing and prosecuting the perpetrators difficult. Ransomware attacks are typically carried out using a Trojan virus disguised as a legitimate file that the user is tricked into downloading or opening when it arrives as an email attachment. However, one high-profile example, the WannaCry worm, traveled automatically between computers without user interaction. 2,474
24 DenialDenial Denial is a refusal or unwillingness to accept something or to accept reality. Refusal to admit the truth or reality of something, refusal to acknowledge something unpleasant; And as a term of Psychology: denial is a defense mechanism in which confrontation with a personal problem or with reality is avoided by denying the existence of the problem or reality. of Service/TDoS 2,018
25 MalwareMalware Short for "malicious software," this term means computer viruses and other types of programs that cybercriminals use to disrupt or access your computer, typically with the aim of gathering sensitive files and accounts./ScarewareScareware A type of malware that displays on-screen warnings of nonexistent computer infections or generates constant pop-ups intended to trick you into buying useless or potentially dangerous "protection" software./VirusVirus A computer program that can replicate itself and spread from computer to computer or file to file. It comes to life only when you take a specific action, such as running a particular program. 1,423
26 Health Care Related 1,383
27 Civil Matter 968
28 Re-shipping 883
29 Charity 659
30 Gambling 391
31 Terrorism 65
32 Hacktivist 52
33 Overpayment 10,988

2020 IC3 Report Highlights:

COVID-19 Fraud:

The IC3 received over 28,500 complaints from victims related to emerging financial crime around government stimulus programs, unemployment insurance, Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, and Small Business Economic Injury Disaster Loans, among others. The most prevalent scheme, however, involved government impersonation; as in, criminals reaching out to victims pretending to be from the government in order to gather personal information or illicitillicit Illicit means something that is not legally permitted or authorized under the law; unlicensed; unlawful. It can also mean disapproved of or not permitted for moral or ethical reasons. money. Other prolific scams involved criminals asking individuals to pay out of pocket or sign in with their Office 365 credentials to place their name on a waiting list for fake COVID-19 vaccinations. The Report encouraged individuals to protect themselves by not providing their personal information to unknown sources and to rely only on trusted sources such as an individual’s doctor or the CDC for medical information. Additional IC3 recommendations included using “extreme caution” in online communication and verifying external email senders, attachments, and links.

Business Email Compromise (BEC):

BEC schemes topped the list of costliest scams reported by victims in 2020 with adjusted losses exceeding $1.8 billion and making up nearly half of all losses reported. This type of attack targets businesses and frequently involves criminals using social engineeringSocial Engineering Social engineering is the psychological manipulation of people into performing actions or divulging confidential information. It is used as a type of confidence trick for the purpose of information gathering, fraud, or system access, it differs from a traditional "con" in that it is often one of many steps in a more complex fraud scheme. It has also been defined as "any act that influences a person to take any action that may or may not be in their best interests." or computer intrusion techniques to compromise legitimate business email accounts to conduct unauthorized transfers of funds. In 2020, the IC3 observed an increase in the number of BEC complaints relating to the use of identity theft and funds being converted to cryptocurrency. 2020 complaints involve criminals posing as tech support or engaging in romantic fraud to lure a victim into providing their ID, which the criminal then used to establish a bank account to receive the stolen BEC funds and then transfer those funds to a cryptocurrency account. The IC3 Recovery Asset Team (“RAT”), which works as a liaison between victims, financial institutions, and FBI field offices to assist in reducing financial losses resulting from BEC scams, recommends that BEC victims: (i) contact the originating financial institution as soon as fraud is recognized to request a recall or reversal and a Hold Harmless Letter or Letter of Indemnity; (ii) file a detailed complaint of the incident with the IC3; (iii) monitor incident trends on IC3’s website; and (iv) never make payment changes without verifying the intended recipient.

Tech Support Fraud:

Tempered only slightly by pandemic lockdowns, the IC3 identified that tech support fraud continues to be a growing problem in 2020. The IC3 received 15,421 tech support fraud complaints from victims in 60 countries in 2020, with losses exceeding $146 million—up 171% from 2019. Notably, the majority of victims reported to be over the age of 60 and experienced over 84% of the losses. This type of attack involves criminals attempting to defraud consumers by posing as support or service representatives offering to resolve technical, security, or customer issues to elicit fraudulent payments or access to consumers’ computers. 2020 complaints involve criminals posing as customer support for financial institutions, utility companies, or virtual currency exchanges. Readers are encouraged to visit the IC3 website for additional information on tech support fraud.


The IC3 highlighted ransomware as another growing area in 2020 after receiving 2,474 complaints with adjusted losses of $29.1 million, which is nearly triple the amount of ransomware-related losses identified in 2019. This type of attack frequently involves criminals deploying malicious software, or malware, that encrypts and blocks access to data on a computer system until payment of the ransomRansom A ransom is an amount of money or other assets of value that is paid for blackmail, extortion, or under other threats or coercion. The ransom is usually paid in cash or now in cryptocurrency. Online blackmail, sextortion, and ransomware all demand ransoms to avoid negative outcomes. is made. Among the most common means of infection in 2020, as identified by the IC3, involved targeted email phishing campaigns and exploitation of remote desktop protocol or software vulnerabilities.

“The FBI does not encourage paying a ransom to criminal actors” the Report stated, as payment does not guarantee that a victim’s files will be recovered. Payment may instead “embolden adversaries to target additional organizations, encourage other criminal actors to engage in the distribution of ransomware, and /or fund illicit activities.”

Even so, the Report emphasizes that the decision to pay the ransom should not discourage a business or individual from reporting the incident to the local FBI field office or IC3.

Romance Scams:

Romance scams is given no special consideration in the report, nor is sextortion. The above are the only crimes the FBI though worthy of special discussion in the report.

FBI 2020 IC3 Report Infographic

FBI’s 2020 Report

Remember, that the FBI only reports what was reported to them. Most victims do not report these crimes – the current estimate is that only 3-5% of victims report these. And people who are victims of multiple scams almost never do.


Take any number you see and multiply it by 20 for a more realistic number!


Always Report All Scams – Anywhere In The World To:

U.S. FTCFTC The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is an independent agency of the United States government whose principal mission is the enforcement of civil (non-criminal) U.S. antitrust law and the promotion of consumer protection. The FTC can also act as a clearinghouse for criminal reports sent to other agencies for investigation and prosecution. To learn more visit www.FTC.gov or to report fraud visit ReportFraud.FTC.gov at https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/#/?orgcode=SCARS and SCARSSCARS SCARS - Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc. A government registered crime victims' assistance & crime prevention nonprofit organization based in Miami, Florida, U.S.A. SCARS supports the victims of scams worldwide and through its partners in more than 60 countries around the world. Incorporated in 2015, its team has 30 years of continuous experience educating and supporting scam victims. Visit www.AgainstScams.org to learn more about SCARS. at www.Anyscams.com

TAGS: SCARS, Information About Scams, Anti-Scam, Scams, Scammers, Fraudsters, Cybercrime, Crybercriminals, Romance Scams, Scam Victims, Online Fraud, Online Crime Is Real Crime, Scam Avoidance, FBI, Federal Bureau of Investigation, United States Government, IC3.gov, Internet Complaint Center, 2020 Report



SCARS the Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Incorporated

By the SCARS™ Editorial Team
Society of Citizens Against Relationship ScamsSCARS SCARS - Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc. A government registered crime victims' assistance & crime prevention nonprofit organization based in Miami, Florida, U.S.A. SCARS supports the victims of scams worldwide and through its partners in more than 60 countries around the world. Incorporated in 2015, its team has 30 years of continuous experience educating and supporting scam victims. Visit www.AgainstScams.org to learn more about SCARS. Inc.

A Worldwide Crime Victims Assistance & Crime Prevention Nonprofit Organization Headquartered In Miami Florida USA & Monterrey NL Mexico, with Partners In More Than 60 Countries
To Learn More, Volunteer, or Donate Visit: www.AgainstScams.org
Contact Us: Contact@AgainstScams.org

The Issue Of Race In Scam Reporting
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