FBI Says Oklahomans Were Scammed Out Of More Than $17M In The Last Year

Wednesday, November 17th 2021, 5:40 pm

TULSA, Oklahoma -

The FBI says Oklahomans lost more than $17 million dollars to scams, cyberattacks and ransomware attacks over the past year. Agents say while that is a lot of money, that is only what has been reported, meaning the loss could be even greater.

This problem affects everyone. Just this year, the City of Tulsa dealt for months with the fall-out of ransomware attacks and two TV stations in Tulsa were hit, and numerous local businesses.

The FBI says people had to be pretty tech-savvy to pull off a ransomware attack four to five years ago, but not anymore.

They say hackers are giving their tools and know-how to low-level cybercriminals, in exchange for part of the money they get.

"You don't need that technical training, that cyber expertise, you can go to these hackers, get the tools you need, commit a ransomware attack, and as long as you give ten percent of your illegal proceeds back to these guys you can continue doing those attacks. That's a pretty scary situation,” said Connor Hagan with FBI Oklahoma.

Agents say, unfortunately, cybercriminals are hard to catch because they hide behind computer screens and many are from other countries. But they say, businesses and individuals not reporting the attacks, is only making the problem worse.

"Cybercriminals, they are savvy guys. They know that a hospital or a company might pay that ransom to get that money back at a very dire time. It can be anyone, anyone can be a victim of these cyber attacks. What we typically see is as cybercriminals grow, so do their operations,” said Hagan.

The FBI says there are things we can all do to better protect ourselves from cyber-attacks. Agents encourage people to use a 14 to 15 character phrase instead of a password. Also, back up your files on something like an external hard drive or thumb drive that is not tied to your network. And, think before you link.

"Don't click on something. Even if you are expecting something. Verify that, give them a call. Or, if you aren't expecting something don't click on it at all,” said Hagan.

The FBI also strongly encourages people or businesses to not pay the ransom.

"There's no guarantee your files will come back,” said Hagan. “And so a lot of people are out their money and their files that they try to get back."

The FBI says it is crucial to report any scams or cyber-attacks so the FBI can investigate and hopefully put a stop to it before there are more victims.