During pandemic, DC was 2nd-most targeted area by cybercrime

The District was the second-most targeted territory or state by cybercriminals during 2020, according to new analysis of FBI Internet Crime numbers by a cybersecurity firm.

CrowdStrike, based in California, said D.C. residents lost over $18 million last year, most commonly to extortion scams.

“Last year, during the global pandemic, Washington, D.C. had the second-highest rates of eCrime proportionate to the population, with over 320 victims per 100,000 residents,” according to a news release from CrowdStrike.

According to the company, 2,132 D.C. residents fell victim to cybercriminals, losing a combined total of $18,942,722. The company expects many of the crimes and losses went unreported.

Residents most commonly fell victim to extortion scams, “generally involving criminals taking money from victims through force or threats.”

In terms of the amount of money lost, residents and organizations lost almost $12 million in Business Email Compromise and Email Account Compromise attacks.

“These are commonly referred to as ‘man in the email’ attacks, where scammers employ phishing and imitation techniques via email to encourage individuals or businesses to hand over sensitive information or conduct unauthorized transfer of funds on the basis of trust,” according to the  release.

Nevada was the only state ranking higher than the District, losing more than $44 million to eCrime last year alone.

Maryland ranked sixth in the nation, with 255 of every 100,000 people falling victim to eCrime. More than $13 million was lost in Maryland in confidence fraud and romance schemes.

Virginia residents lost even more money, by romance cons: More than $18 million was lost to cybercriminals who had gained the confidence of an unsuspecting person.

The analysis of the FBI data revealed victim losses from eCrime in the U.S. totaled over $13.3 billion between 2016 and 2020, with losses growing every year.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a general assignment reporter with WTOP since 1997. He says he looks forward to coming to work every day, even though that means waking up at 3:30 a.m.

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