Tuesday, March 22, 2022

BEC Still #1, but Investment Fraud passes Romance Scams


The FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center (ic3.gov) has released their 2021 Internet Crime Report.

The number of complaints increased by 7% to 847,376 from 2020 to 2021, however the reported losses increased by 64% year over year to $6.9 Billion!

For several years, the #1 Cybercrime type has been Business Email Compromise followed by the #2 of Romance Scam. But this year, we had a change!  The criminals have discovered how many people don't understand investing in cryptocurrency and have turned Investment Scams into a new money factory. 

#1 is still Business Email Compromise, but with only a 3% increase in victims, there was a 28% increase in reported financial losses.  That's an average loss of $120,000 per victim, compared to last year's $96,700 per victim. 

#2 dislodges Romance Scams by Investment Scams for the first time ever with a dramatic increase!  Investment Scams went from 8,788 complaints to 20,561 complaints, while losses increased 333% from $33.6 Million dollars to $1.45 Billion dollars!  THat's an average loss of $70,810 per victim, up from $38,287 per victim last year!

#3 Romance Scams was quite similar to 2020 in the number of complaints, however the amount of losses still increased by 59%.  In 2020, the average victim lost $25,272, but in 2021, the average victim lost $39,344.  And these victims tend to be senior citizens! 

Crime Type 2021 Losses2020 LossesChange in Loss2021 Victims2020 VictimsChange in Victims
BEC/EAC $2,395,953,296$1,866,642,10728%19954193693%
Investment $1,455,943,193$336,469,000333%205618788134%
Confidence Fraud/Romance $956,039,739$600,249,82159%24299237512%
Personal Data Breach $517,021,289$194,473,055165%518294533014%
Real Estate/Rental $350,328,166$213,196,08264%1157813638-15%
Tech Support $347,657,432$146,477,709137%239031542155%
Non-Payment/Non-Delivery $337,493,071$265,011,24927%82478108869-24%
Identity Theft $278,267,918$219,484,69927%516294333019%
Credit Card Fraud $172,998,385$129,820,79233%1675017614-5%
Corporate Data Breach $151,568,225$128,916,64818%12872794-54%
Government Impersonation $142,643,253$109,938,03030%1133512827-12%
Advanced Fee $98,694,137$83,215,40519%1103413020-15%
Civil Matter $85,049,939$24,915,958241%111896815%
Spoofing $82,169,806$216,513,728-62%1852228218-34%
Other $75,837,524$101,523,082-25%123461037219%
Lottery/Sweepstakes/Inheritance $71,289,089$61,111,31917%59918501-30%
Extortion $60,577,741$70,935,939-15%3936076741-49%
Ransomware $49,207,908$29,157,40569%3729247451%
Employment $47,231,023$62,314,015-24%1525316879-10%
Phishing/Vishing/Smishing/Pharming $44,213,707$54,241,075-18%32397224134234%
Overpayment $33,407,671$51,039,922-35%610810988-44%
IPR/Copyright and Counterfeit $16,365,011$5,910,617177%427042131%
Health Care Related $7,042,942$2,904,2515-76%5781383-58%
Malware/Scareware/Virus $5,596,889$6,904,054-19%8101423-43%
Terrorism/Threats of Violence $4,390,720$654,7449-33%1234620669-40%
Gambling $1,940,237$3,961,508-51%3953911%
Re-Shipping $631,466$3,095,265-80%516883-42%
Denial of Service/TDoS $217,981$512,127-57%11042018-45%
Crimes Against Children $198,950$660,044-70%21673202-32%

Investment Scam Examples

What does an Investment Scam look like?  The most common ones these days are promising a guaranteed rate of investment. Thousands of such Investment Scam sites have been created and most of them are being pushed on social media.  People who claim to be successful on the sites are often only trying to earn a commission by referring others to the site.

It only took a couple hours to find more than 500 live Investment Scam sites last month.  Many of these sites are still live today.

Many of the sites are unlikely to attract real investors because of how ridiculous their rates are.  No one believes that they can earn 50% per hour ... however this site promises that if you can trick your associates into investing, you'll get 5% of whatever they deposit.  This is quite common. 


A more believable site promises a much lower rate, such as 3% per day for investments up to $4,999 dollars.  If the site owners believe they have a big fish, they may actually PAY the 3% for a small investment, using that as proof that the system works in order to lure a larger investment.  This site, and many like it, then offer 6% daily profits for investments of at least $5,000, or 9% daily profits for investments of at least $30,000. 

The site pictured above claims to be "Crypto-Trades[.]uk" and offers proof of their legitimacy by providing a link to their "Certificate of Registration."

Crypto-Trades dot UK
claiming to be the British Corporation, "Crypto Ltd" which is a real company, just not them. 

They are regularly abused in that way.  CryptSparkFX[.]com, Crypto-binary[.]com, CryptoTrust[.]ltd, CryptoAlphas[.]uk, CryptoHive[.]uk, Webull-Investments[.]com, ExploreFX[.]uk, Crypto-Gain[.]ltd, Slushpool-investment[.]com, Intrex-invest[.]com, and FedelityFunds-Crypto[.]com are some of the other Investment Scam sites that use their address, hoping to gain credibility from it. 





A True Victim Story

A successful businessman in my area came to me to ask for help.  He had originally joined a group such as those above called CryptoHood[.]io which later became CryptoHood[.]co.  He invested a small five figure number on their site, and got scammed, losing it all.  When he was complaining about being scammed, someone in a Facebook investment group let him know they too had been scammed by those people.  But good news!  He had found a legitimate company that really paid out!  EasonFXPro[.]com! Because he had been burned already, he put in a smaller investment this time.  $2,500.  An amount that this CEO "could afford to lose."

The scammers let him know that because he was a VIP investor, they were going to let him use their "special" app, so that he could watch his trades in real time.  The theory was that their advanced Artificial Intelligence was doing Bitcoin trading to make amazing profits.  The app they used was in the Google Play store ... but the VIP version was only available via their special URL.  They convinced him to download the app from "blockchain.en.uptodown[.]com/android/download/2264221." That was his "personalized" version.  He was truly amazed by the bot, and could enter "his" bitcoin address into any blockchain explorer to see his earnings.  (We checked the address, and it was doing HUGE volumes of small transactions ... it just wasn't his wallet.   He was led to believe that the transactions were "the AI doing trades" for him.  Within a couple months, his bitcoin address had funds worth nearly $250,000!  So he decided to cash out.

In order to cash out, he just had to pay them a "Sigma Fee" of 10%.  He refused ($25,000!?!?!?!) 
They then offered to let him withdraw just $50,000, for a Sigma Fee of only $5,000.
He was harassed on the phone for a while by "Elizabeth Frances" and "Evelyn" and "Mark Gerrard" and "Steven Williams" but chose to file an IC3.gov report about his experiences and walk away from Crypto Investments for a while.

The Appeal of Easy Money

With 1100 "likes" it must be real, right?

And they provide screenshots as proof that they are really getting paid!  So, it's guaranteed, right?

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Trying a new setting. After turning on comments, I got about 20-30 comments per day that were all link spam. Sorry to require login, but the spam was too much.