Cyber security

(The Center Square) – Washington state experienced the eighth-most cybercrime in America last year, according to a recent survey conducted by ThirdParty Trust.

The Chicago-based vendor risk management company surveyed more than 1,000 Americans, asking if they had ever been a victim of cybercrime.

“The data shows just how prevalent cybercrime is in the U.S.,” Megan Sanctorum, spokesperson on behalf of ThirdParty Trust, told The Center Square in an email. “More than half of Americans say they have been a victim, many of them more than once.”

She offered up a few tips on how to lessen the chances of becoming a cybercrime victim.

“I think it’s important to remind people to be cautious with the links they click and to think twice before sending money to someone online they’ve never met,” Sanctorum said. “Remember to use strong passwords and change them frequently. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to report any scams or monetary loss from cybercrime.”

According to the survey, Washingtonians lost nearly $230 million to cybercrime in 2021, or nearly $14,000 per victim.

There were 16,582 victims of cybercrime in the Evergreen State, which translates into an average of more than 215 people per 100,000 who fall victim to cybercrime every year.

To put that in perspective, the average number of victims in every state is 11,752, for a national average of 170 out of every 100,000 people.

Washington made headlines during the COVID-19 pandemic for being swindled out of $650 million in an unemployment fraud scheme partly based out of Nigeria that was carried out via email using stolen Social Security numbers and other personal data.

So far, the biggest fish caught in connection with the fraud is a Nigerian man who was arrested and charged with stealing more than $350,000 in unemployment benefits from the state Employment Security Department in spring 2020.

In May, Abidemi Rufai, a suspended Nigerian government official, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Tacoma, Washington, to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft for using stolen identities to claim hundreds of thousands of dollars in pandemic-related unemployment benefits.

He is scheduled to be sentenced on Monday.

Per an earlier ESD report, Washington has recovered approximately $395 million of the $650 million in stolen pandemic unemployment funds.

The 10 states experiencing the most cybercrime, according to ThirdParty Trust:

1. Nevada

2. Alaska

3. Iowa

4. Florida

5. Delaware

6. Maryland

7. Colorado

8. Washington

9. California

10. Arizona

The 10 states experiencing the least cybercrime, according to ThirdParty Trust:

50. Mississippi

49. North Dakota

48. Louisiana

47. Arkansas

46. Kansas

45. North Carolina

44. Idaho

43. South Dakota

42. Minnesota

41. Tennessee