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Cybercrimes nearly double in Florida, costing the average victim more than $7,000

Also: Why were the SunTrust Financial Centre lights purple? And the cost of owning an electric car.
Internet crimes are on the rise in Florida. [AP Photo]
Internet crimes are on the rise in Florida. [AP Photo]
Published Jan. 28
Updated Jan. 28

If you or your workplace haven’t been the victim of an internet crime, count yourself among the lucky.

By several measures, the amount of cyber fraud and other internet-related attacks are on the rise, both nationally and in Florida. The financial toll also has jumped.

Research released earlier this month from Florida Atlantic University’s Center for Forensic Accounting showed the losses rose from $95 million in 2015 to $178 million in 2018, an 88 percent increase. The loss for each victim also rose, from less than $5,000 per incident to more than $7,200. The numbers only include cases reported to the FBI, which the writers of the study said reflect only a fraction of all internet crimes.

“Basically, until about 20 or 30 years ago, we could actually see people who were a threat to our personal safety and the theme was: Be aware of your surroundings," said Michael Crain, director of the Center for Forensic Accounting. "Now, criminals can be in another country sitting in their house at a computer and victimize someone.”

Scammers are finding new ways to get into personal accounts or breach the defenses of businesses and government agencies. In fact, U.S. businesses felt more threatened by cybercrimes than any other risk, including supply chain interruptions, new laws, natural catastrophes, climate change, political violence, or a shortage of critical workers, according to a new survey from Precise Security. Companies in telecommunications, technology and financial services worried about it the most.

“The risk of cybercrime to businesses all around the world continues multiplying by the day,” the report said.

• • •

You may have noticed the top of the iconic SunTrust Financial Centre in downtown Tampa lit up in an unfamiliar purple late last week. It’s called “Truist purple”, or at least that’s what the bank dubbed it.

The SunTrust building in downtown Tampa lit up in Truist purple. [Cecily Schar]

Truist is the Charlotte-based bank that came out of the SunTrust-BB&T merger, which became official last month. The purple lights were just a quick introduction — Truist won’t be changing the name on the office tower anytime soon. Same for the BB&T building in downtown St. Petersburg.

“It will be some time until clients begin to see signage changes at many of our locations,” a spokeswoman said. “We will provide them with plenty of notice and guidance as we integrate our systems and transition to the Truist client experience over the next 18 to 24 months.”

• • •

Thinking of buying an electric vehicle? AAA found that over five years and 75,000 miles of driving, the annual cost of owning a new compact electric vehicle was about $600 a year more than a gas-powered counterpart.

Many drivers express an interest in buying an electric vehicle but purchase a gas-powered car instead. Two of the main reasons are range anxiety — the worry that the car won’t go far enough before needing to be charged — and a perception that electric vehicles cost a lot more.

AAA found that range anxiety diminished or disappeared soon after a driver buys an electric car, many of which can go more than 200 miles on a single charge.

“AAA believes that if consumers have a better understanding of the real cost and experience of owning an electric vehicle, then the gap between expressed interest and adoption will begin to close,” the study said.

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