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BizReport : Law & Regulation : April 01, 2009

After two years in decline, Internet fraud complaints on the rise

Internet crimes continue to steal millions of dollars every year from unsuspecting victims, and new data from the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) shows that the number of complaints was up last year.

by Helen Leggatt

ic3 logo.jpgThe IC3, which is made up of the FBI, the National White Collar Crime Center and the Bureau of Justice Assistance, saw a rise in the number of complaints of Internet fraud last year, after two years of declines.

The U.S. watchdog received 33% more complaints in 2008 than in the previous year. A new report shows a total of 275,284 complaints were received last year, amounting to losses of $265 million.

Non-delivery of goods was the most common complaint, comprising 33% of all received. Auction fraud accounted for just over a quarter of complaints, followed by credit/debit card fraud with 10%.

While the vast majority of complainants suffered financial loss to some degree, the highest dollar amounts lost were to check fraud ($3,000), confidence fraud ($2,000) and a variant of the Nigerian letter fraud scam ($1,650).

The primary channels via which Internet fraud was conducted were email (74%) and websites (28.9%).

These figures may already look grim, but some believe it's just the tip of the iceberg, with many cases of Internet fraud going unreported.

"Our own research suggests that as few as 15% of cases of cyber-fraud are being reported to crime control agencies," said John Kane, managing director of the National White Collar Crime Center and author of the report (.pdf).

Tags: auction fraud, complaints, crime, FBI, IC3, Internet fraud, Nigerian letter, non-delivery, scam

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