Cybercriminals Stole $6.9 Billion In 2021, Utilizing Social Engineering To Break Into Distant Workplaces


The variety of cybercrime complaints to the Federal Bureau of Investigation rose 7% in 2021 to 847,376 and whole cash misplaced to cybercrime elevated 64% to $6.9 billion, the FBI mentioned Tuesday in its annual Web Crime Report, which highlighted how distant communication and digital conferences can depart companies and people weak to social engineering assaults by fraudsters.

Key Information

Cybercriminals stole $2.4 billion by compromising enterprise e mail accounts, which are sometimes used to provoke fraudulent wire transfers; $1.46 billion by way of funding scams, which regularly concerned bogus cryptocurrency funding alternatives; and $956 million by way of confidence fraud and romance scams, through which a scammer could pose as a possible romantic accomplice earlier than demanding cash to treatment a supposed emergency.

The rise of distant work and digital conferences led to a rise in on-line scams:one new method concerned scammers inviting firm workers to a digital assembly after which utilizing “deepfake” simulated audio of an government’s voice to instruct workers to switch cash to a fraudulent account, in response to the report.

Scammers are more and more turning to difficult-to-trace cryptocurrency transactions enabled by crypto-compatible ATMs, which the FBI describes as poorly regulated and providing instantaneous and irreversible transactions.

Senior residents, whom the FBI says are extra weak to scammers as a result of they’re usually comparatively trusting and financially well-off, misplaced considerably extra to cybercrime than youthful individuals—individuals age 60 and over filed 92,371 complaints in 2021 and reported $1.68 billion misplaced, whereas individuals age 20-29 filed 69,390 complaints however reported solely $431 million misplaced.

California—traditionally the most cybercrime-prone state, and the positioning of high-profile incidents together with celeb account breaches and multi-million-dollar “SIM swapping” scams—was hardest hit in 2021, with 67,095 victims reporting $1.23 billion in losses, adopted by Texas, with 41,148 victims reporting $606 million in losses, and New York, with 29,065 victims reporting $560 million in losses.

Virtually all cybercrime metrics have elevated dramatically since 2017—cash misplaced elevated by 393% and the general variety of complaints elevated by 191%, whereas stories of phishing—through which a scammer sends an e mail pretending to symbolize a good firm to be able to trick the sufferer into revealing passwords or different data—have been up by a whopping 1,178%.

Key Background

As fraud countermeasures superior, scammers moved from easy e mail spoofing to stylish social-engineering schemes, posing as customer support representatives, regulation enforcement officers and even victims’ family members to achieve entry to victims’ accounts or to immediate cash transfers to fraudulent accounts. The FBI Web Crime Grievance Middle’s Restoration Asset Staff (RAT), established in 2018, acts as a liaison between regulation enforcement and banks, investigating rising cybercrime methods and trying to quickly freeze funds fraudulently despatched to U.S.-based accounts. Since its inception, the RAT has succeeded in freezing $328 million, or about 74%, of a complete $443 million transferred in 1,726 fraud incidents, the FBI reported. Reported private knowledge breaches affected 51,829 individuals in 2021, up 14% from the earlier yr, although private knowledge leaks weren’t at all times instigated by scammers—an investigation by cybersecurity information website CyberNews discovered that quite a few Android customers had their private and monetary data leaked attributable to unintentional safety flaws in common apps.

Massive Quantity

466,501. That’s what number of cybercrime victims filed stories with the FBI within the U.S., in comparison with 303,949 victims within the U.Ok. and 25,002 victims in all different international locations mixed.


Maine reported simply $7.26 million in losses, the least of any state, adopted by West Virginia with $9.45 million in losses and Vermont with $9.83 million in losses. North Dakota was residence to only 670 cybercrime victims, adopted by Vermont with 715 victims and Wyoming with 735 victims. Nevertheless, American Samoa—a territory with a inhabitants of about 46,366—reported the bottom numbers of any U.S. state or territory, with $177,533 in losses to 25 victims.


Not all types of cybercrime have elevated since 2020. In 2021, the FBI obtained 49% fewer stories of on-line extortion and 24% fewer stories of on-line non-payment/non-delivery scams.

Additional Studying

“People Misplaced $1 Billion To Romance Scammers Final 12 months, FBI Says” (Forbes)

“Cybercrime: The Darkish Aspect Of Entrepreneurship” (Forbes)

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