Online crime complaints increased substantially once again last year, according to a report about fraudulent activity on the Internet from the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C).
The IC3 received a total of 336,655 complaints, a 22.3 percent increase from 2008. The total loss linked to online fraud was $559.7 million; this is up from $265 million in 2008.
Although the complaints consisted of a variety of fraud types, advanced fee scams that fraudulently used the FBI’s name ranked number one (16.6 percent). Non-delivery of merchandise and/or payment was the second most reported offense (11.9 percent).
The 2009 Internet Crime Report details information related to the volume and scope of complaints, complainant and perpetrator characteristics, geographical data, most frequently reported scams and results of IC3 referrals.
“Law enforcement relies on the corporate sector and citizens to report when they encounter on-line suspicious activity so these schemes can be investigated and criminals can be arrested,” stated Peter Trahon, section chief of the FBI’s Cyber Division. “Computer users are encouraged to have up-to-date security protection on their devices and evaluate e-mail solicitations they receive with a healthy skepticism—if something seems too good to be true, it likely is.”
NW3C Director Donald Brackman said the report’s findings underscore the threat posed by cyber criminals. “The figures contained in this report indicate that criminals are continuing to take full advantage of the anonymity afforded them by the Internet. 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.” But Brackman sounded an optimistic tone about the future. “With the public’s continued support, law enforcement will be better able to track down these perpetrators and bring them to justice.”