The FBI’s “Internet Crime Report” shows a dramatic increase in detected forms of fraud on the Internet.
The “Internet Crime Complaint Center” (IC3) is something like the FBI’s suggestion box. It collects the detected scams over the Internet that become public. In 2019, the agency was informed of 467,361 criminal acts. This represents a loss in value for individuals, companies and the American economy of approximately $3.5 billion. This is a dramatic increase since the authority was founded in 2000. During the last five years, the number of cases has grown from 288,000 to the almost 470,000 now identified. The amount of damages has increased from 1.1 billion US dollars to 3.5 billion. In total, almost five million cases of fraud have been discovered since the authority’s foundation.
Despite the immense numbers, caution is advisable. First of all, the authority is only able to determine what is also reported. This is minimised considerably by two factors. Firstly, by no means all citizens or companies report detected fraud offences to the authorities. On the contrary, there is still a strong tendency to simply take these criminal acts lightly. Secondly, the people concerned have to realize the fraud. Thus, the number of unreported cases is high.
A comparison with Germany shows how vague (and perhaps politically intended) the figures are. According to the industry association bitkom, this country, which is relatively small compared with the USA, has an annual loss of around 20 billion euros due to cyber crime. This is a huge difference to the figures from the USA, which make the truth gap obvious.
It’s a bit like the Potemkin village these days. For some, the village cannot be big enough, while others would prefer to sweep the true size of the figures under the carpet. None of this helps the perception of the subject. The IC3 as well as institutions like bitkom have made consumer education their mission. But you don’t educate with inaccurate data, but you are going to produce fake news.