FBI: Internet crime high; types of misdeeds changing

FBI issues Top 10 Internet crimes report

The FBI's 10th annual Internet crime report finds that complaints and money losses are at an almost all-time high with non-delivery of payment or merchandise, scams impersonating the FBI and identity theft leading to top 10 online complaint parade.

The report, which is issued through the FBI's partner, the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C) found that in 2010, IC3 received 303,809 complaints of Internet crime, the second-highest total in IC3's 10-year history. IC3 also reached a major milestone this year when it received its two-millionth complaint. On average, the group receives and processes 25,000 complaints per month.

More on crimes: FBI details most difficult Internet scams

The top 10 Internet crimes were:

1. Non-delivery Payment/Merchandise

2. FBI-Related Scams

3. Identity Theft

4. Computer Crimes

5. Miscellaneous Fraud

6. Advance Fee Fraud

7. Spam

8. Auction Fraud

9. Credit Card Fraud

10. Overpayment Fraud

Top 10 Internet complaint states include:

1. Alaska

2. Colorado

3. District of Columbia

4. New Jersey

5. Nevada

6. Maryland

7. Washington

8. Florida

9. Arizona

10. Virginia

Some other highlights from the study:

  • Most victims filing complaints were from the US, male, between 40 and 59 years old, and residents of California, Florida, Texas, or New York. Most international complainants were from Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, or India.
  • The age of those reporting crimes to IC3 is becoming more evenly distributed. Early in IC3's history, the 30-39 age group represented the largest complainant reporting pool. Today, complainants 40-59 years old represent the two largest groups reporting crimes . Historic trends indicate a continuing shift toward those in the 50-59 and 60-and-over category. Those in the 60-and-over category account for the most dramatic rise in complaints over the entire 10 years
  • In cases where perpetrator information was available, nearly 75 percent were men and more than half resided in California, Florida, New York, Texas, the District of Columbia, or Washington state. The highest numbers of perpetrators outside the US country were from the United Kingdom, Nigeria, and Canada.

One of the more interesting findings was that auction fraud fell.  According to the IC3 auction fraud has been the leading complaint reported by victims over the past 10 years, with a high of 71.2% of all referrals in 2004. However, in 2010, auction fraud represents slightly more than 10 percent of referrals.  Unfortunately this number demonstrates the growing diversification of crimes related to the Internet.

"Certainly as new operating systems and devices, particularly in the mobile area come into the market an opportunity for what the IC3 calls diversification is possible as the people looking to perpetuate fraud look to find new loopholes but vendors bringing these systems to market are getting better at taking care of those problems, Adam Chernichaw a privacy attorney and partner at White & Case, in New York.  "More frequent vulnerability testing of online merchant systems and better operating system security has made it more difficult for security breaches to lead to significant data theft."

Chernichaw said reduced fraud numbers could come from improved automated detection tools and better fraud management techniques from merchants.

Follow Michael Cooney on Twitter: nwwlayer8   

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