News & Events

Exploring the Rise in Cyber Fraud

Many thanks to Dr. Terry L. Thompason, NCMF member & website contributor, for alerting us to an article on about the rise of cyber fraud, within which he is quoted. The article focuses on the increase in unemployment cyber fraud during a time when millions of people are submitting claims due to COVID-19.

See below for a brief excerpt from the article and click on the READ MORE link to view the full article on Harvard


Former National Security Agency official Terry L. Thompson said cybercriminals buy and sell stolen personal information — that can then be used to file for benefits or make purchases — on the dark web, a part of the internet that requires specific authorization and is often used for illicit transactions.

“Personally identifiable information being stolen — that goes on all the time. And it’s for sale on the dark web in these various marketplaces for not too much money,” said Thompson, now a lecturer at Johns Hopkins University. “Filing an unemployment claim by taking information that has been stolen through some other data breach along the way is pretty low-hanging fruit for these cyber criminals.”

“They’re not stupid,” he added. “They’re very sophisticated and they use a lot of interesting tools.”

Cybercriminals overseas have successfully extracted Americans’ data for the past 20 years, according to Thompson.

“There’s no shortage of people in countries that take the easy way out in terms of cybercrime,” he said. “And Americans — I hate to say this — but Americans are just — we’re such easy targets because we’re quite gullible.”

Even before this year’s economic downturn, cyber fraud was rising. Thompson cited a 2019 internet crime report published by the FBI’s Crime Complaint Center that revealed a steady increase in internet crime complaints over the past five years.

Overall, from 2015 to 2019, the FBI took nearly two million reports of online criminal activity that totaled $10.2 billion in losses for victims. In 2019, Massachusetts was one of ten states whose residents reported more than $75 million in losses due to cyber crime.

A Preponderance of Cyber Schemes

The fraudulent unemployment scheme is merely the latest in an onslaught of cyber fraud operations that have targeted Americans, including Cambridge residents....



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