Our website uses cookies

Cookies enable us to provide the best experience possible and help us understand how visitors use our website. By browsing Infosecurity Magazine, you agree to our use of cookies.

Okay, I understand Learn more

US internet crime losses doubled last year

According to the Internet Crime Complaint Center Center (IC3), which is a joint venture between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center, $559.7 million was lost in 2009 due to online crime. Scams that purport to use the FBI's name were the most frequently reported, at 16.6%. The second most reported incident was nondelivery of merchandise or payment. Figures show that 11.9% of online fraud reports fell into this category.

The increase in dollar losses in the past year represent a marked spike in the average rise over the last nine years. Losses rose relatively steadily from 2001 through 2008, with the only decrease coming in 2004. But the 2009 figures amount to more than the previous two years combined.

Of the cases reported to law enforcement by the Internet Crime Complaint Center, almost one in five were the result of goods not being delivered online, or payments not being made. Identity theft ranked second, at 14.1% of referrals, with credit and debit card fraud coming in third.

Over a quarter of the cases (28%) that were referred to law enforcement by the Center resulted in a monetary loss of between $1000 and $5000.

Perhaps most interesting is the location of the perpetrators. While press reports often focus on cyber criminals in Eastern Europe, China, and Africa, almost two-thirds of the perpetrators were based in the US, with another 10% in the United Kingdom. Eight percent of the perpetrators came from Nigeria, commonly seen as a hotspot for 419 advanced fee scams.

While many of the scams perpetrated online last year were fairly common, such as work-at-home and rogue antivirus cons, there were some relatively obscure ones. The Center described a 'hitman scam', in which a fake organization claims to have been sent to assassinate the victim and their family members due to an alleged offense. "In a bizarre twist, however, the emailer reveals that upon obtaining the victim's information, another member of the gang (purported to know a member of the victim's extended family) pleaded for the victim's pardon," the report said. The teams are instructed to send money via Western Union or Money Gram to a receiver in the United Kingdom within 72 hours to escape the assassination. 

In terms of complaints by location, California came in with the top spot, the source of 13.9% of all internet crime complaints. Moving down the top ten list reflects the states with the highest poulation, as Flordia, Texas, New York, and New Jersey rounded out the top five, each state reglistering at least 5% of all internet crime complaints in the US during the survey period. The rest of the top ten includes, in order: Illinois (3.6%), Pennsylvania (3.4%), Ohio (3.0), Virginia (2.9%), and Washington (2.8%). 

What’s Hot on Infosecurity Magazine?