Charleston, South Carolina — Acting United States Attorney M. Rhett DeHart announced today that, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s 2020 Internet Crime Report, South Carolinians lost more than $30 million to cyber criminals in the past year. Acting U.S. Attorney DeHart urges the public to remain vigilant of cybercrimes, so they do not fall victim.
“Cybercrimes can inflict lifelong damage to the victims,” said Acting U.S. Attorney DeHart. “That is why the investigative work of the FBI and the prosecutorial efforts for cybercrime by our office will not end until such crimes come to a halt. Until that day comes, the public must remain vigilant, particularly during the pandemic, to avoid falling prey to the exploitative cybercriminals.”
The annual report from the FBI noted an increase of more than 300,000 suspected internet crime complaints from 2019, with nearly 800,000 reported in 2020 for reported losses of over $4.2 billion nationwide.
In South Carolina and across the country, victims lost the most money in 2020 to business email compromise / email account compromise (BEC/EAC), followed by romance scams. Victims of BEC/EAC crimes in South Carolina reported losses of over $8.3 million, while victims of romance scams in South Carolina reported losses of more than $4.4 million.
2020 also led to the emergence of COVID-19 scams. Nealy 30,000 complaints by individuals and businesses have been reported across country for crimes related to the pandemic scams.
“The pandemic has unfortunately emboldened cyber criminals to try to take advantage of many neighbors, including those working from home and staying home more often in general,” said Acting U.S. Attorney DeHart. “Our office encourages South Carolinians and South Carolina businesses to protect themselves with video call security measures and additional ways to protect sensitive information.”
Victims of cybercrimes are encouraged to contact the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.
South Carolina data from the 2020 Internet Crime Report can be found at https://www.ic3.gov/Media/PDF/AnnualReport/2020State/StateReport.aspx#?s=45.