Cost of cybercrime reaches record levels as Utah victims nearly top the nation in losses

Utahns are trusting people, perhaps too trusting. New numbers shared with the KSL Investigators show that when it comes to losing money to cybertheft, Utahns are near the nation’s top. (Adobe Stock)



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SALT LAKE CITY — Utahns are trusting people, perhaps too trusting. New numbers shared with the KSL Investigators show that when it comes to losing money to cybertheft, Utahns are near the nation's top.

"I called you because I was a victim of a scam," said Marilyn Smolka when she spoke to KSL.

Smolka thought she was sending money to a friend, who emailed saying they were stuck in the hospital with COVID-19.

It turned out that she sent the money, $300 worth, to a scammer who had hacked her friend's account.

"I cannot believe this happened to me," Adam Moffat told us.

Moffat thought he was confirming his identity to someone looking to rent his home by sending back a six-digit code. In reality, the code unlocked access to his email account for a cyber crook.

"How could I fall for something so stupid?" lamented Melissa Brink when she shared her experience with the KSL Investigators. "I know better!"

Brink believed she had just paid her utility company $50 toward a bill. Unfortunately, she was paying a scammer, who then snagged $500 from her bank account.

These Utahns, whose stories we have shared in recent months, are in good company.

According to FBI data compiled by CCTV Camera World, victims lost a record $4.2 billion to cybercriminals in 2020, up from $3.5 billion the year prior. And Utahns were near the top of the list, with the average victim losing $9,562, making Utah the nation's fifth-highest in cybercrime losses.

Last year, FBI special agent Jeffery Collins told KSL the number of victims of cyberattacks and cybercrime are likely much higher than reported.

"People are embarrassed by it, right?" said Collins. "Who wants to admit that they fell for a scheme like this?"

The best advice: Never click on links in text messages or emails from people you don't know, never assume a person calling you is who they say they are, and use strong, unique passwords to keep the bad guys out.

The same report shows the total cost of cybercrime incidents reported to the FBI has gone up by nearly 800% since 2011, from $485.3 million to $4.2 billion.

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Matt Gephardt

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