For seven years, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) has compiled the reports the US law enforcement agency receives on all different types of digital crimes, and it has consistently found that Business Email Compromise (BEC) Scams resulted in the highest total losses each year. But in his last Internet Crime ReportReleased today for incidents in 2022, “investment” scams topped all others as the biggest digital threat, with $3.3 billion in losses last year.
IC3 reported that the BEC, in which attackers trick businesses into making fake payments or intercepting legitimate payments, resulted in losses of nearly $2.4 billion. in 2021 and $2.7 billion in 2022. In other words, these attacks are still a significant and growing threat. But investment scams, especially those claiming to provide an avenue for cryptocurrency investing, have exploded over the past 18 months. They were particularly fueled by what is called “pig butcher” scamsin which attackers cold contact a target via text or other messaging platforms, strike up a conversation to build trust, and then say they can help the individual enter into an agreement. lucrative investment.
The $3.31 billion in overall investment scam losses in 2022 compares to $1.45 billion in 2021, an increase of 127%. And the FBI notes that cryptocurrency investment scams specifically caused losses of $2.57 billion in 2022, compared to $907 million in 2021, an increase of 183%.
In 2021, IC3 tracked pig-butchering attacks under this name and categorized them under the umbrella of “romance scams” rather than cryptocurrency scams, citing $429 million in butchery-related losses. pigs that year. In the new report, IC3 does not mention the term “pig butchering”, but indicates in an appendix that “a complaint may have several types of crimes”.
The numbers appear to reflect IC3’s efforts to quickly adjust its understanding of how these scams operate amid the sudden increase in pig butchery. But it’s hard to get a definitive picture because it depends on how you categorize the different types of scams. For example, romance scams (also known as “trust scams”) fell from 24,299 complaints in the 2021 report to 19,021 in 2022. Associated losses rose from $956 million to $736 million. But the United States Federal Trade Commission said last month that he received reports of nearly 70,000 romance scams in 2022 and losses of $1.3 billion.
“Crypto investment scams have seen an unprecedented increase in casualties and dollar losses for these investors,” the FBI wrote in the 2022 Internet Crime Report. “Many of the victims took on massive debts to cover the losses from these fraudulent investments.”
Researchers who have tracked pig slaughter say the trend is unequivocal. In recent research from security firm Sophos, for example, senior threat researcher Sean Gallagher followed a criminal campaign who originally appeared to have amassed around $500,000 in stolen cryptocurrency in a month. After continuing to investigate and identifying other wallets linked to the attackers, however, Gallagher concluded that the gang had stolen approximately $3 million over five months.