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FBI: Online Scams Cost $6.9 Billion Last Year

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Nearly $7 billion was lost to Internet scams last year, according to the FBI. However, the actual figure is much higher.


The FBI states in its annual Internet Crime Report that $6.9 billion was lost to online scams last year. It involves extortion, identity theft, phishing, fraud and other techniques to extort money over the internet. The figures refer to 2021 and are a sharp increase compared to the $4.2 billion it recorded in 2020. Since the FBI released the report, it has been $18.7 billion.

In total, this concerns 847,376 complaints, of which the vast majority, about 323,972, are related to phishing (and variants thereof, such as Smishing by SMS). The FBI pays particular attention to business email compromise (BEC, a hacked professional mailbox). The resulting damage amounts to 2.4 billion dollars. The FBI warns that such accounts can be used for various types of cybercrime. Internal requests to transfer money and identity theft or activities around crypto wallets.

Cryptocurrency scams rose spectacularly from $246.2 million in 2020 to $1.6 billion last year. This is remarkable when considering that the number of complaints decreased slightly (from 35,229 to 34,202). The FBI warns that the fraud can often amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Although, to be clear, this is about crime with crypto coins themselves, and it also includes false investments where the victim thinks they are investing in crypto coins.

Ransomware doesn’t seem that huge, with 3,700 complaints and $49.2 million in damage (coming from $30 million in 2020), but the FBI also nuances that it only concerns the amounts paid by companies that admit it. Those who pay and do not report this are therefore not included in the statistics, nor are the costs of recovering the data and of being able to rerun the company after a ransomware attack.

Last year, Conti’s most commonly used ransomware was followed by LockBit and REvil/Sodinokibi. If we look at the countries most affected, the US is ahead with 466,501 complaints, followed by the United Kingdom (5,788 complaints), India (3,131 complaints) and Australia (2,204 complaints). However, we must nuance that the FBI mainly collects complaints from the US or active companies. Therefore, the total global figure for both online scams and the number of companies affected by ransomware is likely to be even higher.

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