Nigerians, Americans, Britons and citizens of 18 other countries lost over $4.1bn to cyber scam, identity theft, Internet romance scam, business email compromise and other fraudulent activities in 2020.
The Internet Crime Complaint Centre of the Federal Bureau of Investigation said fraudsters also targeted the Coronavirus Aid Relief, and Economic Security Act, which included provisions to help small American businesses during the pandemic.
The centre said it received over 791,790 complaints with reported losses exceeding $4.1bn representing 69 per cent increase in total complaints from 2019.
This was contained in the 2020 Internet Crime Report released by the FBI on Wednesday.
Apart from the US, the FBI said it also received complaints from victims in 20 countries, including 443 persons in Nigeria, 216, 633 in United Kingdom; Canada, 5,399; India 2,930; Greece 2,314; Australia 1,807; Australia 1,807; South Africa 1,754; France 1,640; Germany 1,578; Mexico 1,164, Belgium 1,023 and nine other countries.
Others are identity theft $219,484,699; misrepresentation $19,707,242; spoofing $216,513,728; malware/scareware/virus $6,904,054; real estate/rental $213,196,082; harassment/threats violence $6,547,449; personal data breach $194,473,055; copyright/counterfeit $5,910,617; tech support $146,477,709; charity $4,428,766; credit card fraud $129,820,792; gambling $3,961,508; corporate data breach $128,916,648; re-shipping $3,095,265; government impersonation $109,938,030 and crimes against children $660,044.
Victims also lost $512,127 to denial of service; Advanced Fee $83,215,405; hacktivist $50; extortion $70,935,939; employment $62,314,015; lottery/sweepstakes/Inheritance $61,111,319: phishing/vishing/smishing/pharming $54,241,075 and descriptors social media $155,323,073.
The report said, ‘’In 2020, the IC3 received thousands of complaints reporting emerging financial crimes revolving around CARES Act stimulus funds, specifically targeting unemployment insurance, Paycheck Protection Programme loans, and Small Business Economic Injury Disaster Loans, as well as other COVID-related frauds.
‘’Most of the IC3 complaints related to CARES Act fraud involved grant fraud, loan fraud, and phishing for Personally Identifiable Information. Complaints have been filed from citizens in several states describing fraudulently submitted online unemployment insurance claims using their identities. Many victims of this identity theft scheme did not know they had been targeted until they attempted to file their own legitimate claim for unemployment insurance benefits.’’