The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is becoming increasingly concerned about economic espionage in New Jersey and across the country.

FBI (Joe Raedle, Getty Images)

Economic espionage is defined as stealing any type of proprietary information, trade secret, production method or idea and then providing it to a foreign government, agent or agency.

Celeste Danzi, special agent for the FBI in New Jersey, said the exact number of economic espionage cases is classified, but it's in the hundreds, resulting in billions of dollars in losses.

"It's not only products relating to U.S. government weapon productions, but it's our economic proprietary trades and production methods," Danzi said.

She added that agents representing the interests of countries in Asia are involved in many economic espionage cases.

"There's social engineering that's utilized by these individuals," Danzi said. "They'll cultivate someone to become their friend and encourage them to divulge sensitive information. Basically it is psychological manipulation."

Danzi said economic espionage is an issue that should be front and center for most Garden State businesses.

"We want them to both recognize the threat and to safeguard their trade secrets and to proactively report these incidents to the FBI," Danzi said.

Danzi said some individuals may be hesitant to report crimes involving economic espionage because they're concerned about revealing their identity or sensitive information in court proceedings, however, the bureau is willing to work with people on this.

She also said sometimes people wind up sharing sensitive information simply because they don't understand the value of it, so if you have a business you should be developing a plan "to provide physical security to your organization, limit access to trade secrets, and educate your employees on security measures."

Danzi also said sometimes people wind up sharing sensitive information simply because they don't understand the value of it. In order to avoid this from happening, the FBI said business owners need to create a plan.

"To provide physical security to your organization, limit access to trade secrets, and educate your employees on security measures," Danzi said.

The FBI produced a special video called The Company Man to examine the issue of economic espionage in an effort to help companies recognize it.

For more information, people can call the Newark FBI field office at 973-792-3000.

Economic espionage is a federal crime punishable by up to 15 years in jail and a fine of up to 5 million dollars.