Internet-related criminal activities resulted in nearly $240 million in reported losses, up $40 million from 2006, according to the 2007 Internet Crime Report released by the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) and the FBI.
Auction fraud was far and away the most widely reported activity, making up 36 percent of the criminal complaints referred to law enforcement agencies around the country. This represents a 20.5 percent drop in the number of auction-related complaints received by the IC3 from 2006.
Non-delivery of merchandise and/or payment was No. 2 among complaints filed, at 24.9 percent. That was up from 31.1 percent in 2006. After the top two complaints, the numbers dropped off rapidly, with confidence fraud making up 6.7 percent of complaints, credit and debit card fraud (6.3 percent), check fraud (six percent) and computer fraud (5.3 percent); together, these represented 17.6 percent of all referred complaints.
The remainder of the complaint categories — they include identity theft, financial institutions fraud, threats and Nigerian letter fraud — combined to make up less than 8.3 percent of all complaints, according to the report.
“The internet presents a wealth of opportunity for would-be criminals to prey on unsuspecting victims, and this report shows how extensive these types of crime have become,” FBI Cyber Division Assistant Director James Finch said in a prepared statement. “What this report does not show is how often this type of activity goes unreported. Filing a complaint through IC3 is the best way to alert law enforcement authorities of internet crime.”
Since the IC3 began collecting numbers and issuing reports in 2000, internet-related crime losses have climbed from $17.8 million to last year’s $240 million. The 2007 total was up from $183 million in 2005 and $198 million in 2006.
The IC3 referred 90,008 complaints of crime to federal, state and local law enforcement agencies around the United States for investigation. A majority of the cases involved alleged fraud and had a median financial loss of $680.
The report, available here, includes a broad range of statistics:
- Perpetrators were predominantly male (75.8 percent), with half residing in California, Florida, New York, Texas, Illinois, Pennsylvania or Georgia. The majority of reported perpetrators were from the United States, but a significant number were located in the United Kingdom, Nigeria, Canada, Romania and Italy.
- The top five states for cybercrime were California (15.8 percent), Florida (10.1 percent), New York (9.9 percent), Texas (seven percent) and Illinois (3.6 percent). The United States, with 63.2 percent of reported cybercrimes, was by far the country most heavily hit by cybercrime, followed by the U.K. (15.3 percent), Nigeria (5.7 percent), Canada (5.6 percent) and Romania (1.5 percent).
- Males comprised 57.6 percent of the complainants, nearly half were between the ages of 30 and 50, and one-third resided in California, Florida, Texas and New York. While most were from the United States, the IC3 received numerous complaints from Canada, the U.K., Australia, India and Mexico.
- Male complainants reported losing more money than females, at a ratio of $1.67 to every $1 lost per female. The IC3 said this may be a function of both online purchasing differences by gender and the type of fraudulent schemes the individuals were victimized by.
- Electronic mail, at 73.6 percent, and web pages, at 32.7 percent, were the two primary venues for the fraudulent contact.
The IC3 is a joint venture between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center, which is a federally funded nonprofit that supports law enforcement agencies to prosecute white-collar crime.