Skip to content

Illustration by Security Management

FBI Logs 1 Million Internet Crime Complaints in 14 Months

The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) saw complaints about online crime increase nearly 70 percent between 2019 and 2020. While it took nearly seven years for the IC3 complaint tally to reach 1 million, the latest million took just 14 months—from mid-March 2020 to mid-May 2021.

On average, more than 2,000 complaints are received every day.

According to the FBI, the spike in crimes reported in 2020 may have been due to COVID-related scams and increased online commerce and activities. “One of the most prevalent schemes seen during the pandemic has been government impersonators,” the 2020 Internet Crime Report said. “Criminals are reaching out to people through social media, emails, or phone calls pretending to be from the government. The scammers attempt to gather personal information or illicit money through charades or threats.

The top three crimes reported in 2020 were phishing scams, nonpayment/nondelivery, and extortion. Victims lost the most money to business email compromise scams, romance and confidence schemes, and investment fraud.

The 2020 Internet Crime Report found that losses from suspected Internet crime in 2020 exceeded $4.2 billion, with more than 791,700 complaints—an increase of more than 300,000 complaints from 2019.

According to IC3 data analysis by Crowdstrike, healthcare-related online crime rose by 2,473 percent in 2020. Healthcare eCrime involves schemes that attempt to defraud private or government healthcare programs, affecting healthcare providers, companies, or individuals. The tactics used include offers for fake insurance cards, insurance marketplace assistance, stolen health information, or other scams involving medications, supplements, weight loss products, or drug diversion/pill mill practices.

Of the $4.2 billion lost to online crime in the United States last year, nearly $30 million of victim losses resulted from healthcare cybercrime—up more than 2,000 percent compared to 2019.

The healthcare sector also ranked in the top five industries most targeted by ransomware last year, with 97 claimed incidents—a 580-percent increase from the first quarter of 2020. Across all sectors, U.S. ransomware victims lost $29,157,405 in 2020.