SOUTH CAROLINA (WFXG) - According to the FBI, South Carolina cyber crime victims have lost more money this year than 2020 alone. Statewide, the losses amount at more than $40M so far in 2021. 

Every year, the FBI collects complaints, compiles statistics and releases an annual report through IC3. 

In the 2020 report, the FBI says IC3 received a record number of complaints from the American public at 791,790, with the reported losses
exceeding $4.1B. This is a nearly 70% increase in total complaints nationwide from 2019. As for South Carolina, the total amount of money lost to cyber crime has increased by at least $10M each year since 2018. That trend continues through 2021.

“The year is not over yet. So, the numbers keep going up, and it’s alarming.” said Cindy Starns, Supervisory Special Agent.

The impact is also felt locally. For  Aiken, Barnwell and Edgefield Counties, the amount already exceeds last year's total by $6,000. Starns says the uptick in crime is keeping the cyber squad busy.

“We’re getting these calls every day and it’s absolutely heartbreaking to review them and know we cannot address every single one of these.”

Starns believes the pandemic is playing a role in our vulnerability.

“I think we’re more putting ourselves out there, trying to share our own information out there with our families and friends we don’t get to see, but we want to keep them updated through social media, perhaps. So, a lot of our personal information is being pushed out there, and that’s a treasure trove for cyber criminals.”

She feels that can also be the case for those who are working from home.

“We no longer have our IT departments that were there at work that help set up the firewalls and email filters that help provide a layer of protection, but now that we’re at home, we’re responsible for our own security and we have different levels of experience to combat that issue.” 

Right now, when it comes to scams, Starns says there’s a rise in theft of goods.

“We’re seeing where this supply chain is getting diverted by the cyber criminals and they are actually impersonating legitimate businesses and going to their vendors and saying hey, I need another shipment of computers and I need it within two weeks.”

But, she warns anyone can become a victim.

“If someone is asking you for money, asking you to provide personal information, asking you to buy gift cards, if you did not initiate that communication, be skeptical. Stop that communication.”

The FBI also recommends keeping strong passwords. The passwords should be unique to each account. Also, you'll want to keep an eye out for suspicious emails.

If you become a victim, you’re urged to report the cyber crime. You can do that by visiting this link.

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