SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Georgians are taking some of the biggest hits in the country from cyber crime.
The FBI just released new data from 2018 that found when it comes to internet crime victims, Georgia is one of the top 10 states. There have been nearly $3 billion in losses nationwide to cyber crime.
WTOC spoke to experts Wednesday who say the number one way criminals are stealing your money and information is through a simple email. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation says the number one way they are trying to stop it is through education.
Technology is changing by the day. Its a double edge sword - hurting and helping the cyber crime industry.
“Basically, a constant cat and mouse game. They are finding new ways to stay anonymous and to stay hidden, and we’re constantly finding new techniques that allow us to track them down," said Steve Foster.
Special Agent in Charge Debbie Garner with the Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes Unit says she started fighting cyber crime five years ago, specializing in crimes against children. Then, they maybe averaged 150 tips a month. Today, they average 500. That doesn’t necessarily mean there’s more crime, but there’s a new way the crime is being reported.
“One of the reasons for this increase is that the internet service providers are getting better at finding the content on their platforms, so technology is helping us find more of this content," she said.
Internet crime is any illegal activity on the internet, and there’s more than 30 categories of offenses, including identity theft and credit card fraud.
“That’s not something we can entirely blame on internet crime. A lot of the privacy issues we see, people give away a lot of their information," said Sarah Rees.
The GBI says a high population and number of people with access to the internet in Georgia impacts the nearly 10,000 victims from internet crimes in 2018. but it doesn’t necessarily mean the criminals are in Georgia, too.
“Your criminal can make you a victim without ever stepping foot in the jurisdiction that you live. That makes it very difficult for us to try and track them down and bring them to justice.”
According to the GBI cyber crime, about 90 to 92 percent of all for profit cyber crime starts with an email. Those most at-risk, according to the FBI, is those over 60.
“Even without computers or emails. that generation is more trusting, and unfortunately, the scammers know that and they target them.”
Local groups are also trying to warn those who may fall victim. Smart Senior with St. Josephs Candler says they are hosting three seminars this year about bank fraud, telephone and email scams.
“We do see more and more people coming in and using our computers which are available to them, and as they explore different websites and stuff. They don’t know enough about the scammers to protect themselves.”
We asked experts what the biggest piece of advice they have about cyber crime. They say the answer is simple. Always be a skeptic when it comes to the internet.