Social media scams and cruel cons that target lonely hearts to rob them blind were the leading drivers of Internet fraud in 2014, the FBI reported Tuesday in a survey of computer crime.
In its annual online fraud report, the Internet Crime Complaint Center, or IC3, said total financial losses to online fraud reported to the federal government last year topped $800 million.
The IC3 report, however, is a window on how much of that fraud is perpetrated. And in 2014, love-seekers and people who overshare on Facebook and other social media sites became the most common victims of cybercreeps, the report said.But that's just a drop in the bucket of what's presumed to be the real cost of online fraud, much of which doesn't go reported. Citing industry data, the National White Collar Crime Center, which coordinates IC3 with the FBI, said online fraud is actually estimated to cost U.S. residents and businesses more than $3.5 billion a year.
The worst schemes involve scammers — often masquerading as members of the military — pretending to seek love online, IC3 said. Romance confidence scams were the most-reported kind of fraud last year, with victims swindled out of $14,214 on average.