FBI Says Hackers Managed to Extort $28 Million in Cryptocurrencies

On June 22, the FBI presented their annual Internet Crime Report, this one for 2016. By using the reports from the Internet Crime Complaint Center, they are able to publish the yearly document outlining trends and instances of Internet crimes. Still, these reports may not be enough if they want to view the whole situation since it is suspected that only 15% of victims actually report their situation.

The Contents of the Report

Multiple ‘hot topics’ from the last year were highlighted, including the massive BEC loss. BEC (Business Email Compromise) was an incident that ended with the loss of over $360 million. Currently, this is the largest known attack from last year with countless victims. BEC turned out to be a very sophisticated scam, and it only targeted foreign and international companies.

Another major point in the report is ransomware, which is growing more and more popular as an attack form. Ransomware works by locking the infected devices and holding documents for ransom. The criminals are able to use it to send messages to their victims, and those mostly include a ransom demand. More often than not, they would put a bitcoin price and a link to the bitcoin wallet. Over $2.4 million was lost to ransomware last year, and 2,673 reports were identified.

Other major attacks outlined in the report are tech support frauds. Tech fraud scammers managed to steal $7.8 million. The scam pretty much follows the same process every time. The scammer gets on the phone with their victims by various means. They  then try to convince the victim that something is wrong with their device. The criminals try to get control of the computer and then offer their services in ‘dealing with the problem’ in return for money or gift cards.

Over 17,146 individual cases of extortion were recorded as well, and the total loss here is over $15 million, all of which happened online. FBI’s report mostly points out physical threats that were made via the internet. Basically, criminals demand money or something valuable, or they will cause the victim physical injuries. There were also reports of threats like releasing sensitive data, and even ‘sextortion’.

Other forms of online crimes include DDoS attacks, schemes revolving around government impersonations, hitman schemes, as well as loan schemes, and even breaches of high-profile data. Criminals mostly demand payment in Bitcoin or some other cryptocurrency. It is easier to move around, and also has more security layers which make it harder to trace.

Reported online crimes rose 3.7% in 2016. Apart from the US, the most infected foreign countries are Canada, India, UK, Australia, and France. When it comes to the individual states within the US, California suffered the most. It is followed by Texas and Florida which both had over 21,000 reports.

Another part of the report also included the affected age groups. According to the FBI, those above 60 had suffered the most and lost over $339 million last year. Next are those between the ages of 30 and 39, who lost around $190 million. Lastly, the younger users, mostly those around and under 20 years of age were much fewer in number. They also suffered less damage, which was only estimated to be around $6.7 million.


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