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BizReport : Law & Regulation : March 15, 2010

IC3 Annual Report: 2009 a good year for Internet scammers

Last year may have been hard for online businesses, but online scammers were raking it in, according to a report by the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).

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, has released data (.pdf) revealing the astonishing increase in complaints being made and dollars being fraudulently acquired by cyber-criminals.

According to the figures released last Friday in IC3's annual report on Internet crime, U.S. victims reported total losses of US$559.7 million in 2009, more than double 2008's figure of $265 million. Total complaints were up 22.3% to 336,655.

"The figures contained in this report indicate that criminals are continuing to take full advantage of the anonymity afforded them by the Internet," said Donald Brackman, director of the National White Collar Crime Center.

"They are also developing increasingly sophisticated means of defrauding unsuspecting consumers. Internet crime is evolving in ways we couldn't have imagined just five years ago."

FBI special agent Charles Pavelites believes the increase is due, in part, to two things - increased use of the Internet and a change in law that allows more cases to be included.

Ironically, FBI-themed scams accounted for 16.6% of the 336, 655 complaints received by the IC3 last year, mainly in the form of advanced fee scams.

Other common scams were non-delivery of merchandise or payments, identity theft and fake anti-virus software. Recent updates on the FBI's cyber-investigation webpage include new real estate scams, dodgy mystery shopper proposals and Haiti earthquake relief fund alerts.

Tags: cyber-crime, Internet, online fraud

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