By Wagner, Cynthia G.
The Futurist , Vol. 43, No. 4
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. …