Internet Crime Cost People More Than $6.9B in 2021, FBI Says
People lost more than $6.9 billion to internet crimes in 2021, a jump of more than $2 billion from 2020, according to the FBI’s annual Internet Crime Report. The report, released Tuesday, contains “information about the most prevalent internet scams” reported to the federal law enforcement agency’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.
A total of 847,376 internet crime complaints were filed in 2021, a 7% increase from 2020 but a staggering 81% jump from 2019, according to the FBI. The top three cybercrimes reported last year were phishing scams, non-payment/non-delivery and personal data breaches.
Perhaps not surprisingly, much of the spike in internet crimes over the past two years can be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic, which, as the FBI noted in its report, led to an increase in working from home and virtual meetings. In 2020, the FBI received more than 28,500 complaints of criminal internet activity specifically related to COVID-19, though there appears to be no tally of internet crimes related to COVID-19 detailed in the 2021 report.
While COVID-19 restrictions and mandates are easing throughout much of the country, criminal activity over the internet, especially in the form of phishing and data breaches — which reached an all-time high in 2021 — may continue to rise. Crimes in the form of scams and support fraud could become more prevalent in the world of cryptocurrency, which was responsible for some 32,400 complaints in 2021. Other common internet crimes to be on the lookout for include romantic scams, tech support fraud and ransomware. Here’s what to do if you think you’ve been targeted by an internet scam.
The FBI didn’t immediately respond to a request for additional comment. For more information about reported crimes and how you can stay vigilant against rising criminal activity on the internet, check out the full FBI Internet Crime Report.