Holiday Shopping: The Cost of Cybercrime in Intermountain West

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In an age of online shopping complicated by supply chain bottlenecks and inflationary prices, holiday shoppers have one more thing to fear this season: cybercrime.

From email phishing schemes to fraud, the cost of cybercrime in Intermountain West has generally increased over the past five years, according to data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Internet Crime Complaints Center.

During the holiday season of last year, the FBI said, more than 17,000 complaints were received regarding non-delivery of goods, resulting in a loss of $ 53 million to consumers nationwide. .

In 2020, people in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Wyoming and Utah lost almost $ 305 million combined to cybercrime. Nationally, Americans lost $ 4.1 billion to cybercrime, a 69% increase from 2019.

Kathy Stokes, director of fraud prevention for AARP’s Fraud Watch Network, said the increase in cybercrime is due to the fact that “a lot more of us have been online in the past two years due to of COVID ”.

“Criminals follow our trends (and the headlines),” she said in an email.

Utah saw the largest increase with a 545% increase in cash losses from 2016 to 2020. State officials couldn’t attribute the increase to anything specific. But they said consumer protection officials are aware of the prevalence of cybercrime, especially among the elderly, and launched an advertising campaign during Cyber ​​Security Awareness Month in October to educate residents of the area. ‘Utah about precautions they can take, such as password security and identifying email scams.

Of all the ways internet users can lose their money, email compromises are the most common trap. In the Intermountain West last year, more than $ 124 million was lost in personal or business email crimes.

But the FBI data comes with a few caveats because it is a self-reported database. A single complaint can fall under more than one type of crime and a complaint can be filed more than once, officials said in the 2020 annual report. The locations of complaints are also entered by the complainant or otherwise known.

These conditions create a discrepancy between the annual totals of money lost by state and the distribution of those totals by age group..

The most common online traps for consumers are email compromises, according to FBI data. In Intermountain West, more than $ 75 million has been lost due to personal or business email crimes.

Colorado leads the region with $ 50 million lost in courier compromise. State officials had an interesting idea of ​​why.

“Colorado is one of the largest and most prosperous states in the western mountains,” a spokesperson for the Colorado attorney general’s office said in an email. “Criminals go where the opportunities are. “

In addition to email scams, the state has seen an “influx of fraudulent unemployment claims,” ​​which prosecutors and investigators attributed to the economic decline induced by the pandemic.

The Colorado Attorney General’s Office, law enforcement officials, and the Department of Labor and Employment launched a statewide task force in 2021 in Colorado to investigate and prosecute those who committed identity theft and used that information to commit fraud against the state of Colorado and the unemployment insurance system, ”a statement read.

The attorney general’s office has warned that more and more criminals are getting into cybercrime and getting better.

“Just as you shouldn’t leave your keys in your car when you park it on the street, you can’t leave your networks vulnerable to cybercrime,” the spokesperson said.

And while everyone is susceptible to cybercrime, the most vulnerable are the elderly, according to FBI data.

Last year, people over 60 in Intermountain West lost almost $ 1,000 billion combined – double that of all people under 40 – to online scams.

The increase in cybercrime against the elderly has prompted the FBI to release its first-ever annual report on fraud among the elderly this year to raise awareness and educate about the problem.

“Each year, millions of older Americans fall victim to some type of financial fraud or Internet scam, such as romance scams, tech support scams, and lottery or raffle scams,” says The report. “Criminals gain the trust of their targets or use intimidation and threat tactics to take advantage of their victims.

Stokes said the statistics should not lead young people to let their guard down against cybercrime.

“Seniors may report cybercrime more than young adults,” she said. “The data only shows part of what’s going on there, because we know scams are very underreported.”

The FBI, officials and consumer advocates are calling on vacation buyers to remain vigilant and report any crime, regardless of the amount lost, to their financial institution and law enforcement.

“It is only through victims reporting fraud that we can identify trends, educate the public and support investigations, and nowhere is this more important than crimes against the elderly,” the report said. FBI.

Here are the top five types of cybercrime in seven Intermountain states, and how much they’re costing consumers in 2020:

Top cybercrime in 2020 by state

State Rank Type of offense Cost
State Rank Type of offense Cost
Arizona 1 Compromise by e-mail $ 30,563,349
Arizona 2 Trust fraud / romance $ 12,068,910
Arizona 3 Investment $ 3,553,164
Arizona 4 Non-payment / non-delivery $ 3,953,548
Arizona 5 Technical support $ 5,737,849
Colorado 1 Compromise by e-mail $ 48,491,996
Colorado 2 Usurpation $ 17,975,365
Colorado 3 Trust fraud / romance $ 11,802,982
Colorado 4 Identity theft $ 11,039,483
Colorado 5 Other $ 10,248,775
Idaho 1 Compromise by e-mail $ 3,032,789
Idaho 2 Investment $ 2,390,809
Idaho 3 Trust fraud / romance $ 2,126,196
Idaho 4 Usurpation $ 963,961
Idaho 5 Credit card fraud $ 760,075
New Mexico 1 Compromise by e-mail $ 9,947,912
New Mexico 2 Trust fraud / romance $ 5,358,676
New Mexico 3 Investment $ 2,038,960
New Mexico 4 Advanced fees $ 1,615,091
New Mexico 5 Civil matter $ 1,610,416
Nevada 1 Compromise by e-mail $ 17,630,186
Nevada 2 Trust fraud / romance $ 6,041,062
Nevada 3 Investment $ 5,959,034
Nevada 4 Identity theft $ 3,719,989
Nevada 5 Real estate / rental $ 3,202,736
Utah 1 Compromise by e-mail $ 13,186,099
Utah 2 Other $ 15,830,458
Utah 3 Trust fraud / romance $ 6,036,574
Utah 4 Non-payment / non-delivery $ 3,099,967
Utah 5 Personal data breach $ 2,018,413
Wyoming 1 Compromise by e-mail $ 1,256,674
Wyoming 2 Real estate / rental $ 1,230,740
Wyoming 3 Corporate data breach $ 958,000
Wyoming 4 Non-payment / non-delivery $ 573,464
Wyoming 5 Trust fraud / romance $ 377,214

K. Sophie Will is a contributor to Deseret News. @ksophiewill

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