The Federal Bureau of Investigation says its Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) received more than one million cybercrime complaints over the past 14 months.
Established in 2000 as the Internet Fraud Complaint Center and renamed in 2002, IC3 has received a total of 6 million complaints to date. The first million complaints were logged after nearly seven years. In March last year, only weeks before its 20th anniversary, the Center topped 5 million complaints.
In addition to collecting and reporting on this data, the IC3 also issues alerts to the public about new scams or upticks in specific crimes. It also provides federal and other government agencies with access to the collected data.
Over the past several years, the Center has seen a steady increase in the number of reported cybercrime incidents. Between 2019 and 2020, the number of complaints went up nearly 70%, but the increase in reported losses wasn’t as sharp.
Throughout 2020, the IC3 received roughly 800,000 cybercrime complaints, which resulted in losses of approximately $4.2 billion. In 2019, the Center received nearly 467,000 complaints, with the reported losses totaling $3.5 billion.
Phishing scams, non-payment/non-delivery scams, and extortion were the top reported cybercrimes in 2020, with business email compromise (BEC) scams, romance and confidence schemes, and investment fraud causing the highest losses.
The global pandemic has led to the emergence of scams exploiting COVID-19 themes but also resulted in an overall increase in complaints related to cybercrimes — mainly because of an increase in activities and commerce online — and the IC3 believes that 2021 may be a record year as well.
Referring to the massive increase in registered complaints, IC3 Chief Donna Gregory noted that more reports help the FBI become more effective in fighting cyber-enabled crimes.
“On one hand, the number holds some positive news. People know how to find us and how to report an incident. But on the other hand, these numbers indicate more people are being affected by online crimes and scams,” Gregory says.