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FBI warns the public about cybercrimes impacting Hampton Roads

FBI Cyber Threats
Posted at 4:19 PM, Aug 16, 2022

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - Right now criminals abroad and here in the United States are working to try and access your bank account information to steal your money and the FBI wants to warn you about it.

“Cyber security is directly related to our national security. Not only are nation-state adversaries becoming more persistent, the cybercriminals are also becoming more sophisticated,” said Jason Bilnoski, the Assistant Special Agent in charge of the FBI Norfolk Field Office.

Cybercriminals are working to try and target you at home and at work by trying to access your cell phone, laptop, and other devices connected to the internet.

“Unfortunately, ransomware does not discriminate and it’s targeting victims. Everything from school systems to hospitals to 911 centers. Really life safety is been targeted by ransomware attacks,” said Bilnoski.

In 2021, the FBI said there were $6.9 billion in losses to victims with 2,300 complaints per day.

Here are the different trends reported by the FBI:

Business Email Compromise

In 2021, the IC3 received 19,954 Business Email Compromise (BEC) complaints with adjusted losses of nearly $2.4 billion. BEC targets both businesses and individuals performing transfers of funds and is most frequently carried out when a subject compromises legitimate business email accounts through social engineering or computer intrusion techniques to conduct unauthorized transfers.

Confidence Fraud / Romance Scams

Confidence Fraud/Romance scams encompass those designed to pull on a victim’s “heartstrings.” In 2021, the IC3 received reports from 24,299 victims who experienced more than $956 million in losses to Confidence Fraud/Romance scams. Grandparent scams fall under this category. In 2021, over 450 Over 60 victims reported Grandparent scams, with approximate losses of $6.5 million.

Investment

Investment fraud involves the illegal sale or purported sale of financial instruments. Examples of investment fraud include advance fee fraud, Ponzi schemes, pyramid schemes, fraudulent crypto scams, and market manipulation fraud. More than 20,000 victims reported Investment scams in 2021, with losses of over $1.5 billion. Increasingly, victims of Romance scams report being pressured into crypto investments. In 2021, the IC3 received more than 4,325 complaints, with losses of over $429 million, from this scam. Termed “pig butchering”, the scam is so named because victims’ investment accounts are fattened up before draining, much like a pig before slaughter.

Ransomware

Ransomware is a type of malicious software, or malware, that encrypts data on a computer, making it unusable. A cybercriminal holds the data hostage or threatens to destroy the data or release it to the public until the ransom is paid. If the ransom is not paid, the victim’s data remains encrypted. In 2021, the IC3 received 3,729 complaints identified as ransomware with adjusted losses of more than $49.2 million.

Tech Support Fraud

Tech Support Fraud involves a criminal claiming to provide customer, security, or technical support or service to defraud unwitting individuals. In 2021, the IC3 received 23,903 complaints related to Tech Support Fraud from victims in 70 countries. The losses amounted to more than $347 million, which represents a 137 percent increase in losses from 2020.

Cryptocurrency

Once limited to hackers, ransomware groups, and other denizens of the “dark web,” cryptocurrency is becoming the preferred payment method for all types of scams – SIM swaps, tech support fraud, employment schemes, romance scams, and even some auction fraud. The use of cryptocurrency is extremely pervasive in investment scams, where losses can reach into the hundreds of thousands of dollars per victim. The IC3 received over 34,000 complaints in 2021 reporting some type of crypto use. Losses from these complaints exceeded $1.6 billion.

The FBI said business email compromise is one of the most financially damaging online crimes.

According to the FBI website: “It exploits the fact that so many of us rely on email to conduct business—both personal and professional. In a BEC scam, criminals send an email message that appears to come from a known source making a legitimate request, like in these examples:

A vendor your company regularly deals with sends an invoice with an updated mailing address.

A company CEO asks her assistant to purchase dozens of gift cards to send out as employee rewards. She asks for the serial numbers so she can email them out right away.

A homebuyer receives a message from his title company with instructions on how to wire his down payment.”

Bilnoski said businesses should have open communication with the FBI before something bad happens. The FBI works with businesses to help the understand how they can best protect themselves.

Recently there was a victim of a crime that mistakenly sent $1 million to an online criminal. The victim contacted the FBI very quickly and they were able to help him get his money back. He said you need to act fast if you are a victim and contact law enforcement.

He said individuals can also update personal devices to protect themselves.

“Manufacturers of software are constantly adapting their software to make it better and more secure, that’s why the manufacturers will push those updates to you,” said Bilnoski.

He said today there are many different kinds of devices that need to be updated like your car, laptop, home devices or your cell phone.

Here is a link to more information about cybercrimes here.

FBI Filing tips when reporting a complaint:

  • Retain original records: emails, letters, checks, receipts, shipping documents, etc.
  • Document the information used by the scammer: account numbers, addresses, emails, websites, etc.
  • Financial transaction information.
  • Information used by the criminals such as bank accounts, addresses, e-mails, websites, and phone numbers.
  • Print or save a copy of the complaint for your records. Contact financial institutions

Click here to report crimes: