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New Mexico Residents Lost $17.9 Million to Cybercrimes

More than 2,000 New Mexicans lost roughly $17.9 million in 2019 as victims of Internet crimes, according to a newly released report from the FBI, despite there being 100 more victims in the state a year earlier.

by Amanda Martinez, The Santa Fe New Mexican / February 12, 2020
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(TNS) — More than 2,000 New Mexicans lost more than $17.9 million in 2019 as victims of internet crimes and scams, according to a newly released report from the FBI.

While there were about 100 more victims in the state a year earlier, losses more than doubled in 2019, the agency said in a news released issued Tuesday.

Internet Crime Complaint Center chief Donna Gregory said while there was not an increase in new types of fraud last year, criminals used new techniques and tactics.

"Criminals are getting so sophisticated," Gregory said in the statement. "It is getting harder and harder for victims to spot the red flags and tell real from fake."

The FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center has been releasing the annual report since 2001.

The crimes range from credit card fraud to romance fraud to business email compromise scams, in which someone uses an email address to make unauthorized fund transfers.

According to FBI data, New Mexicans lost more than $12 million in business and individual email account compromise scams — more money than in any other type of crime tracked in the report.

New Mexicans lost about $1.6 million in 2019 in confidence and romance fraud scams, in which a person builds a trusting relationship with a victim and then persuades them to send money, valuables, or personal or financial information.

Advance fee scams, in which a swindler tells a victim they've won money or qualified for a loan but must first pay a fee to access the money, came in third, with New Mexicans losing $1.09 million in these scams in 2019, according to the FBI.

People lost $916,911 in nonpayment and nondelivery scams.

Although email is a common way for scammers to initiate these types of crimes, the news release said, the use of text messages and fake websites also occurs.

"You may get a text message that appears to be your bank asking you to verify information on your account," Gregory said in the statement. "Or you may even search a service online and inadvertently end up on a fraudulent site that gathers your bank or credit card information."

New Mexico ranks 33rd in the country for the overall number of victims.

Nationwide, victims lost more than $3.5 billion as a result of these crimes in 2019.

©2020 The Santa Fe New Mexican (Santa Fe, N.M.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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