Financial losses from online crime reported to US authorities reached a record high last year, topping nearly $240m. Taking into account unreported crimes the real figure is likely to be much higher.
Auction fraud and other forms of cybercrime reported to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) were up $40m or 20 per cent from those reported in 2006. The IC3 received 206,884 complaints about internet crimes last year, more than 90,000 of which were referred to law enforcement agencies across the US. IC3, which serves as a clearing house for cybercrime, is a joint operation between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center.
Although internet auction fraud was the most widely reported complaint to the IC3, other problem areas included non-delivery of purchases and credit card fraud. Computer hacking attacks, spam and child abuse on the net formed the subject of other complaints. Commonly reported scams involved the purchase or sale of pets, cheque fraud, email spam, and online dating fraud.
"The internet presents a wealth of opportunity for would be criminals to prey on unsuspecting victims, and this report shows how extensive these types of crime have become," said FBI Cyber Division Assistant Director James Finch. "What this report does not show is how often this type of activity goes unreported. Filing a complaint through IC3 is the best way to alert law enforcement authorities of Internet crime."
The report provides evidence that the UK is fast catching up with the US in being a hotbed of cybercrime. Despite the fact that the IC3 study is supposedly a national US annual report, the UK is the source of 15.3 per cent of the crime reports, significantly ahead of other cybercrime hotspots such as Nigeria (5.7 per cent).
The 2007 Internet Crime Complaint Report from the IC3 is available here (pdf). ®