FBI Getting Record Number of Complaints for Online Scams

Kimberly Redmond  |

Image source: FBI

Complaints regarding online scams and investment fraud have reached record-breaking levels, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) has logged one million complaints in the last 14 months, bringing the total number of crimes reported to six million. 

The IC3, which recently marked its 20th anniversary, noted that it took nearly seven years to log its first million complaints. 

In a press release, IC3 chief Donna Gregory said, “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.”

Key Findings Of 2020’s Internet Crime Report

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  • In 2020, the IC3 received 791,790 complaints of suspected internet crime, a 70% uptick from the previous year 
  • The top three reported crimes were phishing scams, non-payment/non-delivery scams and extortion
  • Victims lost the most money to business email compromise scams, investment fraud and confidence schemes
  • Reported losses exceeded $4.2 billon

The Bureau believes the dramatic spike in reports is partially due to increased online activity as more people shopped, worked and learned from home during the pandemic.

“Unfortunately, criminals are very opportunistic. They see a vulnerable population out there that they can prey upon,” FBI financial crimes section chief Steven Merrill wrote in the latest crime report.

The ongoing public health crisis led to a variety of new scams, including phony vaccination appointment requests, fake online delivery notifications and spam sent under the names of agencies such as the World Health Organization (WHO). 

Over the past year, the IC3 fielded over 28,500 complaints related to COVID-19, with scammers targeting both businesses and individuals.


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