Organized cybercrime is growing. Group-IB identified 390 professional scam groups in the past year, up 350 percent from 2020.
Cybercriminals don’t have to penetrate networks or endpoints to be successful. According to security research by Group-IB, scamming was the most common form of cybercrime in 2021.
Group-IB defines scammers as cybercriminals that steal data or money without resorting to malware. Think of advertisers for non-existent products on social media. According to Group-IB, scammers were responsible for 57 percent of all cybercrimes in 2021. Phishing is excluded from the category because phishers typically set out to spread malware.
According to the research, there were nearly 400 organized scam groups active in 2021, an increase of 350 percent from 2020. The average group consisted of 100 to 1,000 scammers. Scammers were mainly engaged in distributing scam links. Scam links refer to websites that trick victims into purchasing fake products or handing over data. Scam links are typically distributed with social media advertisements, posts and messages.
Group-IB based its research on its Digital Risk Protection platform. The platform scans the internet for mentions of company and product names. Cybercriminals that use company or employee names to mislead victims are brought to light. The same applies to pirates who distribute patented products such as software and content.
According to Group-IB, the number of scam groups increased due to the rise of Scam-as-a-Service, whereby established cybercriminals pay a network of scammers to promote scam links. Independent scammers are attracted to organized groups. Groups distribute links for paying customers, often led by technically proficient cybercriminals.
Scam-as-a-Service is big business. The average scam group distributed 2,000 to 3,000 unique scam links. Group-IB’s research is consistent with figures from the Global Anti-Scam Alliance, an industry association. According to the Global Anti-Scam Alliance, the number of scam reports rose from 139 million to 266 million.