Scams Lost US $10 BILLION in 2022 — Crypto Fraud Grows Fast

FBI reports huge rise in cryptocurrency investment scams. Why am I not surprised?

Online and phone fraud is, frankly, out of control. And U.S. law enforcement seems powerless to stop it. But it can at least report the huge scale of the problem—the FBI’s IC3 has done just that.

It makes terrifying reading. In today’s SB Blogwatch, we duck and cover.

Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment. Not to mention: Yeah.

Ben is Disappointed

What’s the craic? Gareth Vipers reports—“Americans Lost a Record $10.3 Billion to Online Scammers Last Year”:

Cryptocurrency investment fraud rocketed
The FBI said its Internet Crime Complaint Center … (IC3) recorded more than 800,000 complaints in 2022. … The total losses to online scammers rose to $10.3 billion last year from $6.9 billion in 2021. However, the overall number of complaints recorded by IC3 fell slightly from 2021. …

    • Phishing … represented the largest number of scams. …
    • Investment scam losses more than doubled. …
    • Cryptocurrency investment fraud rocketed to $2.57 billion [up] from $907 million. …
    • Ransomware attacks … fell slightly. …
    • Call center fraud represented more than $1 billion in losses.

Wait. Pause. Ransomware FELL? Sergiu Gatlan thinks that’s a GIGO problem—“Ransomware hit 860 critical infrastructure orgs”:

Ransomware attacks against critical infrastructure
Given that the FBI’s report only includes attacks reported to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), the actual number is likely higher. … The FBI advises against paying ransoms to cybercriminals since payments don’t guarantee that victims will recover their files, may encourage further attacks, and will most likely be used to fund additional attacks.

​This year’s Internet Crime Report confirms the law enforcement agency last year’s prediction of an “increase in critical infrastructure victimization in 2022” when victims filed 649 complaints. … FBI has issued multiple advisories … notifications [and] alerts in recent years, warning of ransomware attacks against critical infrastructure, including Healthcare and First Responder networks, Water and Wastewater Systems, the Food and Agriculture sector, and education institutions.

Ah, cryptocurrency. Eyeroll. u/DefactoAtheist can smell the Schadenfreude:

At this point, anyone getting involved in anything crypto related and acting surprised when they get swindled ****** deserves it.

But is it fair to blame cryptocurrency? After all, scams happened pre-Satoshi-san. unequivocal doesn’t mince words:

The problem that crypto is solving for these criminals [is] how to move money across borders without involving authorities outside of their home countries. These groups are based in areas where law enforcement can be bought off. But they can’t buy off intermediate banks who refuse to send them wire transfers.

There’s a reason you don’t hear too much about US or Europe based gangs of criminals conducting these types of crimes: The LE orgs that oversee these jurisdictions will shut them down and prosecute the criminals involved. Russian LE seems to be much looser on enforcement (presumably taking a cut of proceeds), and hence we see a lot of Russian ransomware criminal gangs.

Why should I care? Isn’t it just Darwinian? brucek violently disagrees:

Many of the victims are … elderly. 100% of us will age and all of us will face some level of cognitive decline. It is not OK to allow our oldest and most vulnerable to be targeted and exploited.

I’m glad to see the FBI helping illustrate the scale of the problem. Next I’d like to some more energetic diplomatic and law enforcement muscle to stop making this a safe business to be in for the scammers. There are entire call centers in India running these operations in the broad light of day, and you can find details on popular YouTube channels like Scammer Payback, Kitboga, etc. … There is enough legal trade between the US and India that we ought to be able to insist the top people be extradited and face long sentences here.

Wise words. IntFee588 has some, too:

People often act like victims of scams need to be smarter, however widespread scamming places an immense burden on the broader economy. It increases the cost of doing business.

We don’t blame victims of other crimes, scamming shouldn’t be an exception. … It is an immense failure of law enforcement to not crack down harder on widespread scams.

Instead, blame Zuckerberg (and his ilk). backslashdot shares with the class:

It’s probably a lot more than $10 billion. My phone numbers have been getting a lot of random adds into various groups in … WhatsApp.

Most of my friends just do “Report & Block,” but I just do “Report” and stay in the group to watch. It’s interesting how they work. … The most common scam seems to be you get added to an investing group led by some guru. Many “people” in the forum praise that guru and say how it’s a privilege to be invited. … I bet many people fear missing out and invest based on the testimonies of those bots.

Also, BTW, “Report” seems to do nothing. I’ve never seen WhatsApp bother to block those idiots. I don’t understand how by default any idiot can add you to a group and start sending you messages.

Are you more glass-half-full? u/BunnyTengoku is:

The one silver lining to all this is the comfort of knowing crypto scammers are also scamming each other. And I find that absolutely hilarious.

Meanwhile, DrXym calls this moment “a time for reflection”:

This is so sad, I intend to sell a collectible limited series of NFTs commemorating this event.

And Finally:

Oh yeah

Previously in And Finally

You have been reading SB Blogwatch by Richi Jennings. Richi curates the best bloggy bits, finest forums, and weirdest websites … so you don’t have to. Hate mail may be directed to @RiCHi or [email protected]. Ask your doctor before reading. Your mileage may vary. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Do not stare into laser with remaining eye. E&OE. 30.

Image sauce: Adam Nir (via Unsplash; leveled and cropped)

Richi Jennings

Richi Jennings is a foolish independent industry analyst, editor, and content strategist. A former developer and marketer, he’s also written or edited for Computerworld, Microsoft, Cisco, Micro Focus, HashiCorp, Ferris Research, Osterman Research, Orthogonal Thinking, Native Trust, Elgan Media, Petri, Cyren, Agari, Webroot, HP, HPE, NetApp on Forbes and Bizarrely, his ridiculous work has even won awards from the American Society of Business Publication Editors, ABM/Jesse H. Neal, and B2B Magazine.

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