California leads nation in fraud, total losses for cybercrime victims 60 or over: FBI | #cybercrime | #infosec

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The FBI is warning the public about an increase in cybercrime that targets the nation’s elderly population.

According to an FBI report, the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) received over 880,000 complaints with potential losses exceeding $12.5 Billion in 2023.

Elderly victims were the most frequent targets. Total losses reported to the IC3 by people aged 60 and over were more than $3.4 billion, an 11% increase in reported losses from 2022. There was also a 14% increase in complaints filed with IC3 by elderly victims.

Cybercriminals use tactics such as phishing, spoofing, extortion, and various types of web-based fraud.

Victims who are 60 and over in California experienced more losses and registered more complaints with IC3 than from any other state across the country.

In 2023, there were 11,000 complaints filed with the IC3 by those over 60 from California. The state also ranked first in reported losses topping $620 million, according to the FBI.

Call center schemes overwhelmingly target older adults. Almost half of the complainants were over 60 (40%) and experienced 58% of the losses, roughly $770 million.

Complainants over the age of 60 lost more to these scams than all other age groups combined, and reportedly remortgaged/foreclosed homes, emptied retirement accounts, and borrowed from family and friends to cover losses in these scams.

“This report underscores the fact that seniors are a particularly vulnerable victim group and are often specifically targeted for fraud by bad actors,” said Mehtab Syed, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI Los Angeles Field Office. “The FBI and our law enforcement partners have prioritized efforts to address elder fraud and encourage anyone who believes they are a victim of fraud or know of a senior who may be, to immediately report the incident to the FBI or another law enforcement agency.” 

Common frauds regularly affecting individuals over 60 include:

Confidence/Romance Scam: Criminals pose as interested romantic partners through dating websites to capitalize on their elderly victims’ desire to find companions.

Tech Support Scam: Criminals pose as tech support representatives and offer to fix non-existent computer issues – gaining remote access to victims’ devices and, thus, their sensitive information.

Cryptocurrency Scam: Scammers convince targeted individuals to withdraw large sums of cash and deposit into cryptocurrency ATMs or kiosks at locations provided by the scammers. Once cash is deposited and converted into cryptocurrency, the scammer transfers it to other cryptocurrency accounts.

Investment Scam: Investment fraud involves complex financial crimes often characterized as low-risk investments with guaranteed returns. They comprise of advanced fee frauds, Ponzi schemes, pyramid schemes, market manipulation fraud, real estate investing, and trust-based investing such as cryptocurrency investment scams.

The FBI recommends the following measures to help prevent being a victim of these scams.

  • Recognize scam attempts and end all communication with the scammer.
  • Search online for the contact information (name, email, phone number, addresses) and the proposed offer. Other people have likely posted information online about individuals and businesses trying to run scams.
  • Resist the pressure to act quickly. Scammers create a sense of urgency to produce fear and lure victims into immediate action. Call the police immediately if you feel there is a danger to yourself or loved one.
  • Be cautious of unsolicited phone calls, mailings, and door-to-door services offers.
  • Never give or send any personally identifiable information, money, jewelry, gift cards, checks, or wire information to unverified people or businesses.
  • Make sure all computer anti-virus security software and malware protections are up to date. Use reputable anti-virus software and firewalls.
  • Disconnect from the internet and shut down your device if you see a pop-up message or locked screen. Pop-ups are regularly used by perpetrators to spread malicious software. Enable pop-up blockers to avoid accidentally clicking on a pop-up.
  • Be careful what you download. Never open an email attachment from someone you don’t know and be wary of email attachments forwarded to you.
  • Take precautions to protect your identity if a criminal gains access to your device or account. Immediately contact your financial institutions to replace protections on your accounts and monitor your accounts and personal information for suspicious activity.

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National Cyber Security