BEC Is 62 Times More Profitable than Ransomware, IC3 Finds

The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) is out with its annual Internet Crime Report, revealing that Business Email Compromise (BEC) remains a lucrative affair for cyber crooks – 62 times more lucrative than ransomware.

According to the report, in 2020 the IC3 received 19,369 business email compromise (BEC) / email account compromise (EAC) complaints “with adjusted losses of over $1.8 billion.”

“BEC/EAC is a sophisticated scam targeting both businesses and individuals performing transfers of funds,” the bureau’s cyber squad explains. “The scam is frequently carried out when a subject compromises legitimate business email accounts through social engineering or computer intrusion techniques to conduct unauthorized transfers of funds.”

On the ransomware front, the IC3 received 2,474 complaints with adjusted losses of over $29.1 million in 2020.

The BEC figure makes losses from ransomware sound like peanuts in comparison. In fact, BEC today is 62 times more damaging than ransomware. That’s no small feat, considering that ransomware itself stands out as a highly profitable business in the bigger cyber-threat landscape.

Losses registered in 2020 totaled $4.2 billion, according to the IC3. That includes losses from tech support scams ($146 million), confidence fraud/romance ($600 million), identity theft ($219 million), corporate data breaches ($128 million), lottery/inheritance scams ($61 million), and many others.

Download the IC3’s 2020 Internet Crime Report to scroll through more chilling cybercrime numbers and charts, including victims by age group, the top 20 international victim countries, the top 10 US states by number of victims and victim loss, as well as a compelling list of crime types analyzed.

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