The financial loss from cyber crimes in Kentucky was $9.3 million in 2016, an increase of 53 percent from the year before, according to a recent FBI report.
Kentuckians lost $6.1 million to crimes carried out by computers on the internet in 2015.
“With each passing day, cyber intrusions are becoming more sophisticated, dangerous and common,” David Habich, spokesman for the FBI Louisville Field Office, said in an email.
Kentucky ranked 27th among the 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories in internet crime losses. The biggest losers were California, with losses of more than $255 million, and New York, with $106 million.
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Put in context, Kentucky’s $9 million reported loss isn’t that large. It’s less than the $10 million general fund budget of Versailles, the Woodford County seat of 9,000 residents.
But the actual amount might be much more, because the FBI estimates that only 15 percent of the nation’s cyber crime victims report their losses to law enforcement.
The FBI is the lead federal agency that investigates cyber attacks by criminals, overseas adversaries and terrorists. It compiles an annual report that details the number of victims and losses due to identity theft, tech support fraud, ransomware, extortion and other online offenses.
There were 2,621 victims of internet crime in Kentucky last year, the FBI said. That’s up from 2,529 in 2015.
The most common complaints reported in Kentucky were nonpayment and nondelivery scams. That’s when someone pays for a product or service online but never receives it, or when someone provides a product or service but is never compensated.
The FBI said there were 745 victims of that in Kentucky in 2016.
The second-most reported complaint in the state last year involved personal data breaches. That’s when someone’s sensitive, protected or confidential data is copied, transmitted, viewed, stolen or used by an unauthorized person.
The FBI received 248 of those complaints from Kentucky last year.
Ransomware, the malicious software that blocks access to a computer system until money is paid, has become more common nationwide. But there were only 23 cases reported in Kentucky, and they amounted to losses of less than $16,000.
People older than 60 were the most common victims of internet crime in Kentucky and nationwide, the FBI reported. The losses for that age group in Kentucky were $1.5 million.
But Kentuckians between ages 30 and 39 reported losses totaling $4.8 million, or a little more than half the total reported for the state.
The financial loss from cyber crime in the United States was more than $1.3 billion in 2016, an increase of 24 percent. That’s the highest annual total since the agency began publishing the information in 2000.
To avoid falling victim to internet fraud, the FBI recommends installing antivirus software and keeping it updated, Habich said.
For the full FBI Internet Crime report, go to IC3.gov and click on 2016 IC3 Annual Report.