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INTERNET CRIME
The Latest Numbers

03/16/07

Photograph of cover of 2006 I C 3 Report

When it comes to crime, the Internet is like a Swiss Army knife—a multi-purpose tool that’s easy to use and highly versatile. That’s made crystal clear by the 2006 annual report just issued by our Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), which shows how criminals used the ‘Net to launch nine different varieties of fraud alone.

Among the highlights from the report, which is now posted on the web:

  • Overall totals: During 2006, consumers filed 207,492 complaints. Complainants said they lost $198.4 million, the highest total ever.
  • Types of fraud: Nearly 45 percent of the complaints involved online auction fraud—such as getting a different product than you expected—making it the largest category; more than 19 percent concerned undelivered merchandise or payments. Another pervasive scheme last year involved an e-mail threat of murder . Get more details on all nine fraud categories in Appendix I of the report, including identity theft, investment fraud, cyberstalking, phishing, spoofing, spamming, and others.
  • The perpetrators: Three-quarters were men. Nearly 61 percent lived in the U.S., with half in one of seven states. Other top countries included the U.K., Nigeria, Canada, Romania, and Italy.
  • Victims: All over the map. But the report shows that the “average” complainant was a man between 30 and 40 living in California, Texas, Florida, or New York. Individuals who reported losing money lost an average of $724; the highest losses involved Nigerian letter fraud, with a median loss of $5,100. Nearly 74 percent of the complaints said they were contacted through e-mail, and 36 percent complained of fraud through websites, highlighting the anonymous nature of the web.
How can you avoid becoming a victim yourself? Take a look at Appendix II of the report, which offers some tips and best practices. You can also read about the successful prosecutions of cases that stemmed from complaints submitted to IC3. And please see our additional advice on Internet scams on this website.

The IC3, a partnership between the National White Collar Crime Center and the FBI opened in October 2000, serves as a clearinghouse for reporting cyber crime. Consumers who think they’ve been victimized can file a complaint on the IC3 website; valid complaints are referred to an appropriate law enforcement or regulatory agency. Even those complaints that don’t lead to further action help paint a picture of cyber crime trends.

The 2006 statistics don’t represent the universe of Internet crime, since they are based on submitted reports, but they do provide important insights for investigators and a benchmark from year to year. The idea is to help us better understand the threat, so we can better protect you and your families.

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