For seven years, The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) reports the US law enforcement agency’s findings on all types of digital crime, and has consistently found that Business Email Compliance (BEC) scams account for the largest total loss each year. But according to the latest Internet Crime Report, released today for incidents in 2022, “investment” scams have surpassed all others as the biggest digital threat, accounting for $3.3 billion in losses last year.
IC3 reports that BEC—where attackers trick businesses into making fake payments or disrupting legitimate payments—caused losses of nearly $2.4 billion in 2021 and $2.7 billion in 2022. In other words, those attacks are still a significant and growing threat. But investment scams, especially those claiming to offer a way to invest in cryptocurrency, have exploded in the past 18 months. In particular, attackers are driven by so-called “pork farming” scams, where they claim to be able to help the target get in the door by contacting the target via text or other messaging platforms, starting a conversation to build trust. A profitable investment deal.
Total investment fraud losses of $3.31 billion in 2018 It represents a 127 percent increase compared to $1.45 billion in 2021. And the FBI estimates that cryptocurrency investment fraud in particular will result in $2.57 billion in losses in 2022, up from $907 million in 2021 — a 183 percent increase.
In the year In 2021, IC3 tracked pork attacks under this name and classified them under the umbrella of “love scams” rather than cryptocurrency scams, with losses of $429 million related to pork farming that year. In the new report, IC3 did not mention the phrase “pork slaughter” but said in the annex that “one complaint can have many types of crime”.
The figures seem to reflect IC3’s efforts to quickly correct the perception of how these scams are amid a sudden surge in pig farming. But it’s hard to get an accurate picture because it depends on how you categorize the different types of scams. For example, romance scams (also known as “trust scams”) dropped from 24,299 complaints reported in 2021 to 19,021 in 2022. The corresponding loss fell to $736 million from $956 million. But the U.S. Federal Trade Commission said last month it had received reports of nearly 70,000 romance scams and $1.3 billion in losses by 2022.
“Crypto-investment scams have seen an unprecedented increase in the number of victims and dollar losses for these investors,” the FBI wrote in its 2022 Internet Crime Report. “Many victims have taken on huge debts to cover the losses from these fraudulent investments.”
Researchers who have been tracking pork say the trend is unpredictable. In a recent study by security firm Sophos, for example, senior threat researcher Sean Gallagher tracked down a criminal campaign that amassed an estimated $500,000 worth of stolen cryptocurrency in just one month. After continuing to investigate and identify more wallets linked to the attackers, Gallagher concluded that the gang had stolen about $3 million over five months.