FBI Albuquerque
Public Affairs Specialist Frank Fisher
(505) 889-1438
March 18, 2021

Suspected Internet Crime Cost New Mexico Victims Almost $24 Million in 2020

The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) has released its annual report, with New Mexico victims of suspected cyber scams reporting losses of $23,903,594 in 2020.

Business email compromises were responsible for the biggest share of losses, almost $10 million.

Romance and confidence schemes caused significantly higher losses last year than in 2019, likely because more people were online.

“While many New Mexicans struggled during the COVID-19 pandemic, cyber criminals didn't miss a beat,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Scott A. Rago of the Albuquerque FBI Division. “The increased number of people teleworking or going online to stay in touch provided more opportunities for computer scams. It is imperative the public immediately report suspected criminal Internet activity to the IC3 at ic3.gov so we can put a dent in these kinds of crimes.”

New Mexico highlights:

Business email compromises

  • 2020 Losses: $9,947,912
  • 2020 Victims: 81
  • 2019 Losses: $12,508,677
  • 2019 Victims: 106

Confidence fraud/romance

  • 2020 Losses: $5,358,676
  • 2020 Victims: 189
  • 2019 Losses: $1,648,758
  • 2019 Victims: 114

Investment scams

  • 2020 Losses: $2,038,960
  • 2020 Victims: 27
  • 2019 Losses: $184,456
  • 2019 Victims: 8

Advanced fee

  • 2020 Losses: $1,615,091
  • 2020 Victims: 67
  • 2019 Losses: $1,092,526
  • 2019 Victims: 89

Extortion

  • 2020 Losses: $199,993
  • 2020 Victims: 651
  • 2019 Losses: $210,627
  • 2019 Victims: 320

All frauds

  • 2020 Losses: $23,903,594
  • 2020 Victims: 3,427
  • 2019 Losses: $17,983,833
  • 2019 Victims: 2,037

Over 60 years old

  • 2020 Losses: $7,127,910
  • 2020 Victims: 837
  • 2019 Losses: $13,509,629
  • 2019 Victims: 493

The 2020 Internet Crime Report includes nationwide information from 791,790 complaints of suspected Internet crime—an increase of more than 300,000 complaints from 2019—and reported losses exceeding $4.2 billion.

Notably, 2020 saw the emergence of scams exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic. The IC3 received over 28,500 complaints nationwide related to COVID-19, with fraudsters targeting both businesses and individuals.

In addition to statistics, the IC3’s 2020 Internet Crime Report contains information about the most prevalent Internet scams affecting the public and offers guidance for prevention and protection. It also highlights the FBI’s work combating Internet crime, including recent case examples.

Finally, the 2020 Internet Crime Report explains the IC3, its mission, and functions.

The IC3 gives the public a reliable and convenient mechanism to report suspected Internet crime to the FBI. The FBI analyzes and shares information from submitted complaints for investigative and intelligence purposes, for law enforcement, and for public awareness.

By reporting Internet crime to ic3.gov, victims are not only alerting law enforcement to the activity, but aiding in the overall fight against cyber crime.

IC3 encourages the public to protect themselves from scammers by:

  • Using extreme caution in online communication. Verify the sender of an e-mail, and be wary of attachments or links.
  • Practice good “cyber hygiene,” such as installing anti-virus software and keeping it updated.
  • Question anyone offering you something that is “too good to be true,” a secret investment opportunity, or medical advice.
  • Rely on trusted sources, like your own doctor, the Centers for Disease Control, and your local health department for medical information, and the Federal Trade Commission and Internal Revenue Service for financial and tax information.

The following reports are available online:

IC3 2020: https://www.ic3.gov/Media/PDF/AnnualReport/2020_IC3Report.pdf

2020 state reports: https://www.ic3.gov/Media/PDF/AnnualReport/2020State/StateReport.aspx

2019 state reports: https://www.ic3.gov/Media/PDF/AnnualReport/2019State/StateReport.aspx

Definitions:

Advanced Fee: An individual pays money to someone in anticipation of receiving something of greater value in return, but instead, receives significantly less than expected or nothing.

Business Email Compromise/Email Account Compromise: BEC is a scam targeting businesses (not individuals) working with foreign suppliers and/or businesses regularly performing wire transfer payments. EAC is a similar scam which targets individuals. These sophisticated scams are carried out by fraudsters compromising email accounts through social engineering or computer intrusion techniques to conduct unauthorized transfer of funds.

Confidence/Romance Fraud: An individual believes they are in a relationship (family, friendly, or romantic) and are tricked into sending money, personal and financial information, or items of value to the perpetrator or to launder money or items to assist the perpetrator. This includes the grandparent’s scam and any scheme in which the perpetrator preys on the complainant’s “heartstrings”.

Extortion: Unlawful extraction of money or property through intimidation or undue exercise of authority. It may include threats of physical harm, criminal prosecution, or public exposure.

Investment: Deceptive practice that induces investors to make purchases on the basis of false information. These scams usually offer the victims large returns with minimal risk. (Retirement, 401K, Ponzi, Pyramid, etc.)