Internet Fraud on the Rise: Spike in Internet Crime Complaints Concerns U.S. Law Enforcement

Article excerpt

As more of our lives are conducted online, including our financial lives, the risk of falling prey to online crime also grows. In 2008, a record-setting 275,284 complaints were filed, according to the latest report of the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center.

Crimes, both fraudulent and non-fraudulent, increased by more than 32% in the United States between 2004 and 2008, and the amount of money reported lost annually skyrocketed from $68 million to $265 million.

Fraud complaints include auction fraud, credit and debit card frauds, and nondelivery of goods or services. Nonfraud complaints include computer intrusions (hacking/cracking), spam, and child pornography.

One of the biggest stories of 2008 was the popularity of fraudulent FBI e-mails used in identity-theft schemes, the report notes. Another development was the increasingly personalized nature of the contacts to gain trust of the victims, allowing fraudsters to take over unsecured e-mail accounts.

Despite the global nature of the Internet, more than 66% of the perpetrators of Internet crimes were from the United States, as were 92% of the complaints that the organization received.

Predicting where, when, how, and whom Internet crimes and frauds may strike is impeded by the many variables of individual Internet usage--more time spent using the Internet increases exposure, for instance, but also increases a user's experience and Net savvy.

The report concludes that the best crime-fighting strategy is proactive prevention measures. …