Report Shows What Internet Scams Cost Americans Most
Fraud Complaint Center's annual data trends report
offers data and statistics
on the prevalence and impact of Internet fraud in
- April 9, 2002 - Nearly 43 percent of all reported
Internet fraud comes from auction fraud, according to
the Internet Fraud Complaint Center's annual data trends
report. The IFCC, a partnership between the Federal
Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National White
Collar Crime Center (NW3C), today released an annual
compilation of information on complaints received from
victims and referred to law enforcement during its first
full year of operation. Non-deliverable merchandise
and non-payment accounted for 20.3 percent of complaints
and Nigerian Letter fraud made up nearly 15.5 percent
of complaints. Credit/debit card fraud and confidence
fraud round out the top five categories of complaints
referred to law enforcement during the year. Nigerian
letter fraud ($5,575), identity theft ($3,000), and
investment fraud ($1,000) complainants filed the highest
median dollar losses.
the report period that spans January 1, 2001 through
December 31, 2001, complaints filed with the IFCC totaled
49,711, with unique Web hits to the site (www.ifccfbi.gov)
totaling nearly 17.1 million. Many of the complaints
the IFCC has taken involve incidents like computer intrusion,
hacking, and child pornography and were not Internet-fraud
specific. All complaints received by the IFCC are reviewed
and referred on behalf of the person filing the complaint.
Of the on-line filings, the IFCC referred 16,775 Internet
fraud complaints to law enforcement or regulatory agencies
across the nation. Efforts from the IFCC-sponsored initiative
called "Operation Cyber Loss," resulted in
criminal charges being brought against approximately
90 individuals. The fraud schemes exposed by the May
2001 initiative represented over 56,000 victims who
suffered cumulative losses in excess of $117 million.
Additional scheme take down initiatives are pending.
committed via the Internet makes investigation and prosecution
difficult because the offender and victim may be located
thousands of miles apart. This borderless phenomena
is a unique characteristic of Internet crime and is
not found with many other types of traditional crime,"
said Thomas Richardson, Deputy Assistant Director, Criminal
Investigative Division of the FBI. "Jurisdictional
issues often require the cooperation of multiple agencies
to resolve a case. This is a hallmark of the IFCC. It
streamlines the case initiation effort and saves victims
and enforcement agencies a great deal of time."
number of complaints to the IFCC is rising rapidly.
While the primary mission of the IFCC is to address
Internet fraud, the IFCC served a critical role for
the United States starting on September 11, 2001. On
that date, just hours after the terrorist attacks in
New York, Pennsylvania, and metropolitan Washington,
DC, the IFCC Web site served as the mechanism by which
people filed on-line tips with the FBI regarding these
attacks. Tens of thousands of tips were received and
processed in real-time in the months following the tragedies
and some of the information received proved useful for
the prevention of further terrorist acts and the subsequent
criminal investigation. With the IFCC's recent role
in collecting terrorist tips for the FBI, the activity
to its Web site has soared and fraud complaints are
expected to show a dramatic increase.
anticipate the number of complaints to rise from 1,000
a week to 1,000 a day," said Richard L. Johnston,
Director of the NW3C. "We know more Internet crime
is out there, it's just a matter of victims knowing
where to go to report it and then actually reporting
more information on the IFCC, or to obtain a copy of
the 2001 annual data trends report, visit www.ifccfbi.gov.
Tips on preventing Internet and computer-related fraud
can also be found on the IFCC Web site.
Funded by a grant from the Department of Justice, Office
of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance, the
NW3C is a non-profit organization that provides a national
support network for state and local law enforcement
agencies involved in the prevention, investigation,
and prosecution of economic and high-tech crime. More
information on the NW3C and its initiatives is available
The IFCC is a partnership between the Federal Bureau
of Investigation and the National White Collar Crime
Center and began operating in May 2000. The IFCC Web
site is located at www.ifccfbi.gov.