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New Website Aims to Prevent Cyber Scams


Photograph of Lou ReigelOn Monday, the FBI joined the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the online job search company Monster Worldwide, and other partners in launching a new website— LooksTooGoodToBeTrue.com—to educate the public about Internet schemes and to provide a central place for consumers to file complaints.

Lou Reigel, the FBI’s top Cyber exec, called the new site “a significant step forward in the fight against cyber crime,” citing the importance of education in fighting scams that aren’t confined by national or international boundaries. “Prevention is our best weapon: we have to get out in front of these crimes so they never happen in the first place.”

What does the site offer? For starters, a novel interactive online fraud risk test that lets you measure your online safety habits relating to identity theft, financial fraud, Internet auctions, counterfeiting, lottery scams, and computer privacy. Take the test here!

The site also provides prevention tips, details on current cyber scams, consumer alerts, victim stories, and an opportunity to share your own story of cyber fraud. You can also order a free DVD entitled “Web of Deceit” produced by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

How big is the universe of cyber scams? Big…and growing. According to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center, 207,449 complaints were reported in 2004, a 67 percent increase from a year earlier; the monetary losses from the cases referred to IC3 was $68 million. Complaints filed through LooksTooGoodToBeTrue.com will ultimately be vetted by IC3.

We encourage you to take a look at the new website…and, above all, to take its advice:

  • Be suspicious of e-mails that appear to be from banks, online auction sites, or other retailers that ask you to correct mistakes in your account information or to provide other personal information.
  • Never use a link in an e-mail to visit any website if the e-mail is asking for sensitive personal information or if you have any doubt at all about the sender or site. Instead, type in the address that you normally use to log onto the site.
  • If you have doubts, call the business on the telephone. You should always be able to resolve any issues with the customer service representative if the company is legitimate.
  • Only purchase goods and services from sites you trust. Software makes it easy to create websites and emails that look exactly like the real ones. Examine all offers carefully before purchasing.

Other partners in the establishment and maintenance of the website include Target Corporation and the Merchant Risk Council.

“Today we’re sending an instant message to criminals: The Internet is not your safe house,” said Lee R. Heath, Chief Postal Inspector of the U.S. Postal Service.

And our message to you is: If you come across an Internet offer that sounds too good to be true, be skeptical…and visit LooksTooGoodToBeTrue to check it out.

Resources: FBI Cyber Initiatives | More Cyber stories