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INTERNET CRIME
A Look at Growing Trends

04/07/06

Graphic of 2005 Internet Crime Report

On 4/6, top FBI exec Chris Swecker was one of a series of witnesses to testify at a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on the sexual exploitation of children over the Internet...and what’s being done about it.

At nearly exactly the same time, the Internet Crime Complaint Center, or IC3—a partnership of the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center—released its annual statistics on Internet Crime.

Coincidence? Actually, yes. But although Swecker’s statement and IC3's report cover different aspects of the issue, both are aimed at one thing: providing the latest insights into the nature and extent of Internet-based crime...and what the FBI and its partners are doing to curtail it.

One thing’s for sure: the numbers are up, in a big way. The IC3 says that the volume of complaints it received online in 2005 (231,493, to be exact) and the total dollar losses arising from referred cases (more than $183 million) are at all-time highs. More complaints were filed in the final three months of 2005 than in any other quarter in the past six years. While Internet auction fraud was again the most reported offense, IC3 says that complaints about phishing, spoofing, and spam all increased during the year. We encourage you to read the full report for all the telling details.

And what about the sexual exploitation of children via the Internet? Same story. Mr. Swecker said our Innocent Images program dedicated to stopping online child predators has grown “exponentially,” with our caseload rising over two thousand percent, from 113 investigations in 1996 to 2,500 in 2005. The Cyber tipline operated by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the FBI, and other partners has also seen a 400 percent growth in reports filed in its eight years of operation.

What’s the FBI doing to combat such trends? Quite a bit...and in close cooperation with partners nationally and internationally. Mr. Swecker talks about how our agents now work side-by-side with officers from around the world to stop the online sexual abuse of children; how we’ve stationed six FBI agents and staff full time at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children; and how we’ve teamed up with various partners to address the growing problem of child prostitution through the Innocence Lost National Initiative. And the IC3 report cites examples of cases where online complaints it has received and referred have ended up in catching cyber criminals across the globe.

You can help—by not becoming a victim in the first place. Please take advantage of many resources we offer to protect yourself and your loved ones from such crimes. The IC3 report, for example, has a list of “best practices to prevent Internet crime.” You can find additional information on our Be Crime Smart website. And visit our Innocent Images for a range of advice and suggestions on how to protect your kids from sexual predators in cyberspace.

Resources: Chris Swecker’s Testimony | 2005 Internet Crime Report