Adults aged 60 or more years lost more than $649.2 million as victims of internet scams in 2018, the FBI said Monday.
The statistic was part of the “2018 Internet Crime Report” released by the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.
The center received 62,085 complaints from older adults in 2018, the FBI said. That’s up from 49,523 complaints in 2017.
Overall in 2018, the center received 351,936 complaints, with total losses exceeding $2.7 billion. That compares with 301,580 complaints and total losses exceeding $1.4 billion in 2017. The 60+ age group had the highest number of victims of any age group.
“The 2018 report shows how prevalent these crimes are,” Donna Gregory, chief of the IC3, said in a statement. “It also shows that the financial toll is substantial and a victim can be anyone who uses a connected device.”
The top three crime types reported by victims in 2018, according to the FBI:
- Non-payment / non-delivery — In non-payment situations, goods and services are shipped, but payment is never rendered. In non-delivery situations, payment is sent, but goods and services are never received.
- Extortion — When a criminal demands something of value from a victim by threatening physical or financial harm or the release of sensitive data.
- Personal data breach — A leak or spill of personal data that is released from a secure location to an untrusted environment. Such breaches also may refer to a security incident in which an individual’s sensitive, protected, or confidential data is copied, transmitted, viewed, stolen or used by an unauthorized individual.
In 2017, the top three crimes reported by victims were non-payment / non-delivery, phishing (unsolicited email, text messages and telephone calls purportedly from a legitimate company requesting personal, financial and / or login credentials) and personal data breach.
The top three crime types with the highest reported losses in 2018 were:
- Business email compromise — A scam targeting businesses working with foreign suppliers and/or businesses regularly performing wire transfer payments.
- Confidence / romance fraud — A perpetrator deceives a victim into believing the perpetrator and the victim have a trust relationship, whether family, friendly or romantic. As a result, the victim is persuaded to send money, personal and financial information, or items of value to the perpetrator or to launder money on behalf of the perpetrator. Some variations of this scheme are romance/dating scams or the grandparents scam.
- Investment schemes — Deceptive practices that induce investors to make purchases on the basis of false information. These scams usually offer the victims large returns with minimal risk. Variations of this scam include retirement schemes, Ponzi schemes and pyramid schemes.
In 2017, the top three crime types with the highest reported losses were business email compromise, confidence / romance fraud, and non-payment / non-delivery.
To file a complaint with the center, visit the center’s website.
“Awareness is one powerful tool in efforts to combat and prevent these crimes. Reporting is another,” Gregory said. “The more information that comes into the IC3, the better law enforcement is able to respond.”
The IC3 website lists common and current scams as well as tips on how to avoid being a victim of an internet-enabled crime. Keep hardware and software updated and protected by anti-virus programs and strong passwords, the center advises. Also, learn how to recognize suspicious messages and requests, and research and verify the legitimacy of every offer, person, message or opportunity encountered online.