In 2021, America experienced an unprecedented increase in cyber attacks and malicious cyber activity. These cyber attacks compromised businesses in an extensive array of business sectors as well as the American public. As the cyber threat evolves and becomes increasingly intertwined with traditional foreign intelligence threats and emerging technologies, the FBI continues to leverage our unique authorities and partnerships to impose risks and consequences on our nation’s cyber adversaries.
The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) provides the American public with a direct outlet to report cyber crimes to the FBI. We analyze and investigate the reporting to track the trends and threats from cyber criminals and then share this data with our intelligence and law enforcement partners. The FBI, alongside our partners, recognizes how crucial information sharing of cyber activities is to prepare our partners to combat the cyber threat, through a whole-of-government approach. Critical to that approach is public reporting to IC3 – enabling us to fill in the missing pieces with this valuable information during the investigatory process. Not only does this reporting help to prevent additional crimes, it allows us to develop key insights on the ever-evolving trends and threats we face from malign cyber actors.
In 2021, IC3 continued to receive a record number of complaints from the American public: 847,376 reported complaints, which was a 7% increase from 2020, with potential losses exceeding $6.9 billion. Among the 2021 complaints received, ransomware, business e-mail compromise (BEC) schemes, and the criminal use of cryptocurrency are among the top incidents reported. In 2021, BEC schemes resulted in 19,954 complaints with an adjusted loss of nearly $2.4 billion.
IC3’s commitment to cyber victims and partnerships allow for the continued success through programs such as the IC3’s Recovery Asset Team (RAT). Established in 2018, RAT streamlines communications with financial institutions and FBI field offices to assist freezing of funds for victims. In 2021, the IC3’s RAT initiated the Financial Fraud Kill Chain (FFKC) on 1,726 BEC complaints involving domestic to domestic transactions with potential losses of $443,448,237. A monetary hold was placed on approximately $329 million, which represents a 74% success rate.
In 2021, heightened attention was brought to the urgent need for more cyber incident reporting to the federal government. Cyber incidents are in fact crimes deserving of an investigation, leading to judicial repercussions for the perpetrators who commit them. Thank you to all those readers who reported crimes to IC3 throughout the year.
Without this reporting, we could not be as effective in ensuring consequences are imposed on those perpetrating these attacks and our understanding of these threats would not be as robust. Please visit IC3.gov to access the latest information on criminal internet activity.
The FBI’s Cyber Division is working harder than ever to protect the American public and to instill safety, security, and confidence in a digitally connected world. We encourage everyone to use IC3 and reach out to their local FBI field office to report malicious activity. Together we can continue to create a safer and more secure cyber landscape.
Federal Bureau of Investigation