FBI: Cybercrimes on the rise with amount of victims in Pittsburgh region

PITTSBURGH — You’ve seen it on your social media pages or a friend at work said, “I got hacked.” Cybercrimes are on the rise with the amount of victims in our region nearly doubling from 2019 to 2021.

“One of the biggest threats we see to western Pennsylvania is ransomware and that tracks nationally,” said Supervisory Special Agent Jonathan Holmes with the FBI Pittsburgh Cyber Criminal Squad.

Local numbers show 32 victims from six surrounding counties with a loss of $390,000 to ransomware in 2021, but the FBI believes those numbers are much higher and says victims need to come forward to help prevent further cyber crimes.

“They are very reluctant because they want to protect their brand or image,” Holmes said.

Download the FREE WPXI News app for breaking news alerts.

But these hacks are not reported to the public, only within the bureau to help catch these criminals. That’s the part where it gets complicated as the FBI said the majority of these crimes are coming from Russia or Eastern Europe where arrests aren’t always possible.

“We look to seize their money when we can or if we know there computer systems using to attack their attacks, we shut those computer systems down,” Holmes said.

While you may think only big companies with funds are targeted, these FBI agents said there are smaller avenues like business email compromises that are becoming prevalent in our region too.

Follow Channel 11 News on Facebook and Twitter. | Watch WPXI NOW

“A common scenario is bad guy gets access to somebody in billing in a particular business and by taking that email account they contact one of the customers and say this is our new bank account and our new number and by providing that those funds are now diverted to the bad guys,” Holmes said.

The FBI said this cyber crime targets any size business and even elderly people who may have more funds in 401(k) or pensions. So how do you protect yourself, your loved one or your business?

“Turn on two factor authentication for your accounts, don’t click on phishing messages, be weary of attachments in emails you may have received. I think that goes a long way if you are a victim,” Holmes said.

Another thing to watch out for is social media crimes. A lot of times someone’s account may be hacked and they send you a message and you are more likely to click on a link coming from someone you know, but the FBI said always be suspicious.