2020 was a tough year, with the COVID-19 pandemic hitting pockets across most nations’ economies while leaving many people highly vulnerable to cyber-attacks.
The above claim is also evident in a new report released by the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), suggesting an increase in cybercrime incidents in 2020.
According to the report, cybercrime incidents went up by a significant 125% between 2018 and 2020.
The report further capped the total complaints received from victims over the last five years ending 2020, at a high figure of 2,211,396.
Consequently, approximately $13.3 billion was lost to cyber-attacks within the five years under review.
It was also revealed that an average of 440,000 complaints was received annually over the last five years, with 2020 alone accounting for a whopping $4.2 billion in losses.
Also, as discovered in the report, adult remains the most targeted victim so far.
In 2020 alone, the IC3 received 105,301 complaints from victims over the age of 60, resulting in total losses of over $966 million.
“Victims over the age of 60 are targeted by perpetrators because they are believed to have significant financial resources,” the report added.
Phishing remains the most used crime type in two consecutive years
In the last five years, the top 5 prominently used crime types include phishing, non-payment, extortion, personal data breach, and identity theft.
Among the five crime types, phishing remains the only one to maintain a trajectory usage over the last five years, while others record a varying figure YoY.
Also, phishing accounts for the highest number of cybercrime victims in the last five years, at a total of 427, 232; immediately followed by non-payment crime type, which alone accounted for 400,925 victims.
The third, fourth, and fifth positions are extortion, personal data breach, and identity theft crime types, accounting for 203,072; 192,667 and; 110,025 victims.
While cybercrime is not only carried out using the above methods, it accounts for the most case as discovered in the report.
As spotted in the report, other crime types include the likes of Spoofing, Misinterpretation, Confidence fraud, Business Email Compromise (BEC), and Credit Card fraud, among several others.
Nigeria listed among top 20 international victim countries
While the United States was excluded from the list as it accounts for the highest number of victims by country, Nigeria ranked 16th on the list with 443 victims in total.
The United Kingdom ranked first, accounting for 216,633 victims, followed by Canada, India, Greece, and Australia, all of which accounted for 5,399; 2,930; 2,314, and; 1,807 victims, respectively.
Another African country spotted on the list alongside Nigeria is South Africa, ranked 6th on the list and accounted for 1,754 victims.
COVID-19 contributed to the increase in cybercrime
Unfortunately, the year 2020 will always be remembered as the year of the COVID-19 pandemic and double tragedy for those who fell victim to cybercrime.
While the virus affected all aspects of life, Fraudsters leveraged on the majority’s (individual and businesses) vulnerability to steal during the period.
According to the report, IC3 received over 28,500 complaints related to COVID-19, most of which involved Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act),
Also, there were thousands of complaints reporting emerging financial crimes revolving around CARES Act stimulus funds.
Specifically, the fraudsters targeted opportunities related to unemployment insurance, Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, and Small Business Economic Injury Disaster Loans, as well as other COVID-related frauds.
Moving forward, people, especially those in the U.S. are encouraged to protect themselves from scammers by:
• Using extreme caution in online communication. Verify the sender of an email. Criminals will sometimes change just one letter in an email address to make it look like the one you know.
• Also, be very wary of attachments or links. Hover your mouse over a link before clicking to see where it is sending you.
• Questioning anyone offering you something that is “too good to be true” or is a secret investment opportunity or medical advice.
• Relying on trusted sources, like your own doctor, the Center for Disease Control, and your local health department for medical information and agencies like the Federal Trade Commission and Internal Revenue Service for financial and tax information.
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