The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Internet Complaint Center (IC3) released its annual report on internet crimes. It found a total of 351,936 complaints of internet crime were submitted in 2018, leading to monetary losses exceeding $2.7 billion.
FBI report: 11,800 internet real estate scams in 2018
Of those crimes, 11,300 victims were sucked in by real estate-related scams, for a total loss of $150 million, in accordance with Inman News. Year-to-year, the amount of victims increased by 17% (9,645 real estate fraud victims in 2017) and the volume of dollars lost in real estate scams increased by 168% ($56 million in 2017).
Florida ranks third in total number of internet fraud victims after California and Texas – and in addition it followed both states in total amount of money lost by victims.
The majority of the successful real estate scams originate from stolen listing data, in which criminals change contact details and advertise a home for sale or rent at prices below local market rates. Oftentimes, these are discovered following the actual listing agent finds the mirror-copy of their listing with changed numbers.
Another nefarious high-income scam has buyers send final transaction payments to a fraudulent account set up by the scammer.
The most prevalent crimes in the report were scams on electronic purchases, personal data breaches and extortion; the most expensive crimes involved investment scams, business email compromises, and romance/confidence fraud. People over age 50 were more prone to be internet crime victims.
In 2018, the FBI developed the Recovery Asset Team (RAT) to aid with the recovery of funds for victims who transferred funds to domestic accounts under false premises. This agency succeeded in recovering 75% of losses reported to these kinds of internet crimes, the FBI says.
The FBI says the prevalence of internet crimes continued an upward trend in 2018, and that awareness and reporting are essential to the prevention and intervention of these crimes.
The FBI report is posted online.
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