Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida

Guest column

How You Can #StopCyberCrime

By Andrea Aprea, Public Affairs Specialist, FBI Tampa Division

Internet crime is costing the American public billions of dollars. Over the last five years, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) received more than 1.4 million complaints with a total reported loss of $5.52 billion. With such staggering numbers, the FBI is asking the public to report any suspicious criminal Internet activity so authorities can work to take the criminals offline.

IC3’s 2017 Internet Crime Report ranked Florida the second highest state in the nation for the number of cyber crime victims. IC3 documented 21,887 victims in Florida, second only to California with 41,974 victims. Florida ranks third in 2017 losses with $110.6 million. The top cyber crime type in terms of dollar loss, according to the report, is Business Email Compromise (BEC), with losses totaling more than $676 million. The scam targets individuals and businesses performing wire transfer payments. The most frequently targeted type of transaction involves real estate purchases. The FBI Tampa Field Office has seen a significant increase in the number of BEC complaints over the last few years.

“In 2017, victims in the FBI Tampa Division territory reported BEC losses of $64 million up from $22 million in 2016,” says Special Agent in charge of the FBI Tampa Division Eric W. Sporre. “We want people to know the best way to protect yourself from becoming a victim of BEC is to verify the authenticity of wire transfer requests before they are carried out. Pick up the phone and call the person who sent the email, using previously known numbers, not the numbers provided in the email request. Don’t rely solely on technology to seal a deal; know who you are dealing with.”

If you discover funds were transferred to a fraudulent account, it is important to act quickly. Immediately contact your bank and request that the bank contact the corresponding financial institution where the fraudulent transfer was sent. Next, contact your local FBI field office. If the wire transfer was recent, the FBI might be able to help freeze the funds. Lastly, regardless of dollar loss, file a complaint with

To mitigate internet threats, like BEC, IC3 has initiated a #StopCyberCrime campaign to raise awareness and encourage the public to report suspected criminal cyber activity to IC3. In addition, the public can follow these safeguards:

There are steps businesses can take to protect against BEC:

Too often, Internet crimes go unreported, so don’t delay in filing a complaint. But before you hit “send,” be as descriptive as possible in the complaint by including names, email addresses, web sites and information on financial institutions that received any funds. Also include a detailed description of your interactions with the subject. Follow these simple steps and you can help stop cyber crime!

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