Tennesseans Lost $161M to Cyber Scams in 2023; Crypto Investment and AI-Backed Crimes Top the List

Tennesseans Lost $161M to Cyber Scams in 2023; Crypto Investment and AI-Backed Crimes Top the List
Cover Image Source: Tennesseans lost $161M to cyber scams in 2023 (representative image) | Matt Cardy | Getty Images

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released a new report revealing the astounding amount of money lost to internet scams. As per the 2023 Internet Crime Report, the total amount lost to internet scams was around $12.5 billion, which marked a significant rise from the previous years. The report also revealed that the surge was a result of cryptocurrency investment fraud, as well as other cybercrime filed by AI. It was also seen that Tennesseans lost $161 million to cybercrime, a 40% rise from the year before. 

The seal of the F.B.I. hangs in the Flag Room at the bureau's headquaters | Getty Images | Photo by Chip Somodevilla
The seal of the F.B.I. hangs in the Flag Room at the bureau's headquarters | Getty Images | Photo by Chip Somodevilla

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The Volunteer state ranked 31st for most funds lost to cybercrime in 2023 in the US. The report also talked about the fact that people who were 60 and older were far more susceptible to these frauds than the other age groups. According to Special Agent Regis Billings of the FBI Nashville Resident Agency Cyber Squad, people above 60 have a higher risk of falling victim to these scams mostly because they are less technologically sound compared to the other generations.

"It’s heartbreaking to go out to people who have given their life savings either to a tech support scam, a romance scam, or think that they’re rolling over their 401(k) into another investment such as cryptocurrency, only to be completely defrauded by the bad guys," Billings said. "We’re seeing a lot of this revolve around the emerging use of technology by new users that didn’t have the opportunity to grow up with it," he added.

As per the report, Tennessee residents reportedly lodged a total of 8,484 complaints with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center in 2023. Billings urged people to reach out to local law enforcement organizations in case of fraud. 



 

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Furthermore, the report talked about how tech support scams and investment scams are the top reasons people are losing money in Tennessee and the entire nation. “In a lot of the tech scams, they are using the U.S. government’s name, either the FBI or the IRS, and purporting or pretending to be the government," Billings added, via WKRN.

He also talked about how most of the cybercrimes are orchestrated from outside the borders. "With some of the internet-based criminology using crimes that we’ve seen, it’s very easy, it’s low entry cost to be able to get into, they’re able to go around sanctions with new technologies, such as cryptocurrencies to be able to get a lot of that funding to those countries. They’re trying to take advantage of us," he added.

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Image Source: Boonchai/Getty Images
Most of the cybercrimes are orchestrated from outside the borders (representative image) | Boonchai/Getty Images

FBI urges everybody to stay cautious and enable two-factor authentication to their online accounts, which will serve as an extra layer of protection. Meanwhile, the FBI and The Internet Crime Complaint Center’s Recovery Asset Team (RAT) urge people to head to www.ic3.gov if they have any vital information or want to lodge a detailed complaint. People are also advised to contact the financial institution in case they have already participated in a wire transfer. 

According to the report, "The RAT functions as a liaison between law enforcement and financial institutions supporting statistical and investigative analysis." The team was established in 2018 and aims to work with the FBI to help freeze the funds that have been transferred unethically.

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