FBI: Nigeria, 19 Others Lost $13bn to Cyber Fraud in Five Years

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Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja

The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said 20 countries, including Nigeria lost $13.3 billion to internet crimes between 2016 and 2020.

In 2020 alone, the affected countries lost $4.1 billion to such crimes as government impersonation, identity theft, personal data breach, misrepresentation, cyber scam, business email compromise, romance scam among others.

In its 2020 report, the Internet Crime Complaint Centre of the FBI said the fraudsters targeted the coronavirus aid relief, and Economic Security Act, which included provisions to help small American businesses during the pandemic.

It said the age of the victims in the affected countries range between 20 and 60 years.

Details of the report also showed that Nigeria is among the top 20-victim countries in 2020 with 443 victims, UK, 216,633; Canada, 5,399 and India, 2,930, among others.

The FBI said the centre received 5, 679, 259 complaints since inception in 2016, representing 440, 000 complaints per year on average since the last five years and 2000 complaints daily.

“Unfortunately, criminals are very opportunistic. They see a vulnerable population out there that they can prey upon,” FBI’s Financial Crimes Section Chief, Steven Merrill, said.

The US crime agency offered advice on measures to be adopted to avoid becoming victims of such crimes.

“People are encouraged to protect themselves from scammers by using extreme caution in online communication.

“Verify the sender of an email. Criminals will sometimes change just one letter in an email address to make it look like one you know. Also, be very wary of attachments or links. Hover your mouse over a link before clicking to see where it is sending you,” it said.

The FBI further urged internet users to “question anyone offering you something that is too good to be true or is a secret investment opportunity or medical advice.

“Rely on trusted sources, like your own doctor, the centre

for disease control, and your local health department for

medical information”.

A statistical analysis of the losses in the report showed that $1,866,642,107 was lost to BEC/EAC; overpayment $51,039,922; confidence fraud/romance $600,249,82; ransomware $29,157,405; investment $336,469,000; healthcare-related $29,042,515; non-payment/non-delivery $265,011,249 and Civil matter $24,915,958.

Others include identity theft $219,484,699; misrepresentation $19,707,242; spoofing $216,513,728; malware/scareware/virus $6,904,054; real estate/rental $213,196,082; harassment/threats violence $6,547,449; personal data breach $194,473,055; copyright/counterfeit $5,910,617; tech support $146,477,709; charity $4,428,766; credit card fraud $129,820,792; gambling $3,961,508; corporate data breach $128,916,648; re-shipping $3,095,265; Government Impersonation $109,938,030 and crimes against children $660,044.