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Online Crime at Second Highest in Decade



Just how pervasive has Internet crime become? In 2010, the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) received 303,809 complaints—the second-highest total in IC3's 10-year history and an average of 25,317 complaints a month, according to the Credit Union National Association's News Now.

IC3, a repository for victim complaints, is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C). It has received more than two million Internet crime complaints since it was established in 2000.

The three most common complaints:

  • Nondelivery of payment or merchandise (14.4% of complaints);
  • Scams using the FBI's name (13.2%); and
  • Identity theft (9.8%).

Other complaints include: computer crimes, 9.1%; miscellaneous fraud, 8.6%; advance fee fraud, 7.6%; spam, 6.9%; auction fraud, 5.9%; credit card fraud, 5.3%; and overpayment fraud, 5.3%.

Of those with dollar losses reported, 21.1% related to nondelivery of payment or merchandise, 16.6% were identity theft, 10.1% were auction fraud, and 9.3% were credit card fraud.

This represents a shift, according to the report. Historically, auction fraud has been the leading complaint by victims, accounting for 71.2% of referrals in 2004. But in 2010, auction fraud represented slightly more than just 10% of the complaints.

"This demonstrates the growing diversification of crimes related to the Internet," according to IC3's 2010 Annual Report. "The steady decline in the total number of complaints and referrals of auction fraud over the last several years has altered the top complaint categories."

A possible explanation could be that "complaint levels are normalizing as businesses and consumers discover and implement ways to make previously uncharted areas of online commerce safe and more reliable."

Online crime affects all demographic groups. Most complainants were in the U.S., male, between 40 and 59 years old, and residents of California, Florida, Texas, or New York. Most foreign complainants were from Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, or India.

Men reported greater dollar losses than women, at a ratio of $1.25 to $1. Individuals age 60 and older reported higher median amounts of losses than other age groups.



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