FBI Says Americans Lost a Record $12.5 Billion to Online Scams in 2023

By Trisha Andrada

Mar 07, 2024 05:19 AM EST

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has documented a record-breaking $12.5 billion in losses from online scams in 2023, driven by an upsurge in cryptocurrency investment fraud.

According to the bureau's report released on Wednesday, Americans' overall losses from scams increased by almost $2 billion in 2022, making it the worst year for digital scams since the FBI started tracking them over 20 years ago.

In the report's preface, FBI executive assistant director Timothy Langan said, "Profit-driven cybercriminals and nation-state adversaries alike have the capability to paralyze entire school systems, police departments, healthcare facilities, and individual private sector entities."

(Photo : Sora Shimazaki / Pexels)

FBI Reports Investment Scheme

According to CNN, investment frauds accounted for $4.5 billion, or over a third of the $12.5 billion in losses recorded in 2023. The FBI reported that many of these scams involved con artists posing as people's romantic interests to lure their victims into investing in bogus cryptocurrency schemes.

Since many victims do not disclose fraud, the FBI's yearly cybercrime report provides only a limited view of the financial effect of online theft. However, it is one of the better glimpses provided.

Read Also: Bitcoin Money Launderer, Who Used Fake Churches as False Fronts in Romance Scams, Ordered to Pay Over $3.5M to Elderly Victims

Ransomware Attacks

While government authorities throughout the United States advise business victims not to pay hackers, a new FBI study acknowledged that the devastating consequences of ransomware attacks have increased.

According to the FBI, the reported damages caused by ransomware assaults escalated from around $34 million in 2022 to over $59 million in 2023.

However, the true cost of ransomware, including payments for the ransom, as well as the cost of repairing compromised systems and replacing lost revenue, is far more. The agency said a small percentage of victims actually notify the FBI after becoming a ransomware victim.

Chainalysis, a crypto-tracking business, has calculated that cybercriminals demanded an unprecedented $1.1 billion in ransom payments from victim organizations worldwide in 2023.

The FBI study was released as the agency and other government authorities attempted to control the financial consequences of a ransomware attack on UnitedHealth's Change Healthcare, the health insurance IT giant that provides patient billing across the US healthcare system.

The hacking incident, which can take up to a month to restore core services and weeks longer to bring back less essential functions, is reportedly costing healthcare providers millions of dollars daily. New data from the FBI shows that 249 ransomware cases were recorded in the healthcare sector in 2023, more than in any other industry.

Read More: Hong Kong Securities Issues Alert on BitForex Cryptocurrency Exchange Fraud Suspicions

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