Tech Support Scams Up 40% Year-On-Year: Report

John Lister's picture

Reported cyber crime has more than doubled in the last two years according to the FBI. Over 60s are the group with the biggest value losses.

The figures come from the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), a central resource for reporting cyber crime. The IC3 works with local and national agencies and businesses to coordinate work on cyber threats and identify particular patterns of risk.

In 2019 it received 467,361 complaints with the reported losses topping $3.5 billion. That's up from $2.7 billion in 2018 and $1.4 billion in 2017. (Source: bbc.co.uk)

Part of the rise may be people being more likely to report cyber crimes, for example because the IC3 becomes better known or insurers require businesses to do so before making a claim. But the rise certainly seems big enough to suggest a genuine increase in cyber crime.

Employees Targeted

The IC3 notes three types of cyber crime that it found particularly prevalent in 2019, all of which were as much about human behavior as technology.

The first was business email compromise where scammers send bogus emails to trick employees into authorizing online payments or changing payroll details, with total losses reported at $1.7 billion. (Source: ic3.gov)

Another problem was "elder fraud", with over 60s reporting 68,013 crimes with total losses of $835 million. That covered a host of scams including bogus investments and romance scams where fraudsters strike up fake online relationships before asking for money and then disappearing.

Tech Support Scams Continue

The IC3 believes cyber criminals target elderly people not just because they are less tech-savvy but because they may be more likely to have "significant financial resources." The FBI is now working with the Department of Justice to specifically target cyber crime aimed at elderly people.

Another growth area is tech support fraud, which is up 40 per cent year-on-year. It's a well-established tactic where scammers pretend there's a problem with a computer and then ask for payment details before they "fix it." According to IC3, 2019 saw a trend towards scammers posing as bank or travel company officials rather than the more common trick of pretending to be from Microsoft or other software companies.

The tech support scams in particular are something that Infopackets has been covering in the last 7 years, starting as far back as 2013. As we discovered, the scam goes much deeper than losing $199-$399 on an initial scam - it can lead to your bank account being drained, your house being sold, and even identity theft.

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What's Your Opinion?

Have you ever suffered and reported a cyber crime? Are you surprised reports have risen so dramatically? Have you spotted any changes in the type of attempted scams you notice?

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