Utahns lost more than $46 million to internet crimes

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – Utahns beware, internet crimes and fraud are up according to the 2019 Internet Crimes Report from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“To many people are just sending money to people they don’t know,” said Sergeant Jeff Plank with the Department of Public Safety and FBI Cyber Task Force. “I would suggest that everybody slow down a little bit as far as sending money, I mean that is what we are talking about – losing money on the internet.”

The FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center states Utahns made more than 3,300 complaints and lost $46,458,273 from internet crimes and fraud.

“That is a lot of money,” said Sgt. Plank.

Nationally, Americans lost more than $3.5 billion.

Most of that money was lost in three ways by Utahns. First by business emails being compromised.

“If in an email, you’re requested to send a large amount of money, pay special attention to the email address and make sure it is accurate,” he said.

If it doesn’t seem right, ask your boss about the email and see what the company protocol is. Plus, you can make sure the transaction is legitimate by calling the company in question and asking for transfer details.

The second biggest way Utahns lost millions was by malware, where a victim is told to pay x amount of dollars in ransom.

“There is a lot of scams that are ignited through social media,” said the sergeant.

And that’s where the FBI sees the third problem: relationship or romance scams.

ABC4’s Jason Nguyen speaking with Sergeant Jeff Plank with the Department of Public Safety and FBI Cyber Task Force

“Someone might just be on their Facebook account, and checking their wall or whatnot, they might get hit up by a random person wanting to chat. And, that chat leads into a romance type of scam or a romance first and it becomes a scam where the subject is asking for some type of money,” says Sgt. Plank. “If you haven’t met them in person, don’t send them money. It is as easy as that.”

There is a quick search you can do to protect yourself using Google Images.

“Do an image search for that particular person and that is an easy way to identify who it is that you are dealing with. A lot of bad guys will use legitimate people’s pictures and information to impersonate them,” said Sgt. Plank.

Another way to protect yourself is to talk things through with a trusted family member or friend.
If things seem fishy or the person contacting you says don’t call the police, call the police.

“If you send money online, or overseas, or to someone else, the chances of you ever getting that back if you know, if it’s a mistake, it’s probably not going to happen,” Sgt. Plank added.

FBI officials say implement two-factor authorization on your email and social media accounts to help prevent someone from trying to take your identity.

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