Online fraud expected to rise

Online fraud expected to rise

By By Dennis Horton, Manager, Public Affairs, Better Business Bureau, Regional Office

In May of 2000 the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center established the Internet Fraud Complaint Center. With a staff of nearly 60 people, the Center’s job is to cull complaints and channel them to more than 2,700 law enforcement and regulatory agencies around the world.

In its first report (January 1, 2001 – December 31, 2001) the Center announced that it has received nearly 50,000 complaints of Internet fraud and other computer-related complaints such as computer intrusions, SPAM/unsolicited e-mail, and child pornography. Of those complaints filed, nearly 17,000 were referred for law enforcement action. The referred complaints represent $17.8 million lost by individuals due to being scammed. On the average, each took a hit of about $435.

The top 10 most reported

Internet fraud cases are:

Internet Auction Fraud 42.8%

Non Delivery (merchandise and payment) 20.3%

Nigerian Letter Fraud 15.5%

Credit/Debit Card Fraud 9.4%

Confidence Fraud 3.1%

Investment Fraud 1.7%

Business Fraud 1.4%

Identity Theft 1.3%

Check Fraud 0.7%

Communications Fraud 0.6%

According to the report, these scams are most likely to take place in Illinois, New York, California, Texas and Florida.

While the IFCC says it’s making headway in helping those who have been hit Thomas Richardson, deputy assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigation Division, says “prosecuting Internet crimes is difficult because perpetrators often live thousands of miles from the victims.”

Richard Johnston, Director of the White Collar Crime Center, says he expects complaints next year to rise from 1,000 per week to 1,000 per day. He says, however, only one in 10 incidents of fraud will ever make its way to the attention of law enforcement or regulatory agencies.

The average age of those who filed fraud complaints was 39; of those 70 percent were male. Victims over 60 years old were most at risk of losing large amounts of money more than $5,000.

Can you protect yourself? Yes. Know with whom you’re doing business. Check them out with the BBB first. Make sure you have a physical address that can be verified and a working telephone number that is not a cell phone. And never, give out your Social Security number, drivers license number, or financial account information.

To file a complaint with the IFCC, you can do so online at or

To check out a business, contact the BBB at 815-963-2222. For information on joining the Bureau call 815-490-9283. You can also visit our web site at

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