FBI: 2010 A Banner Year for Online Crime

online crime report ic3 scams webIdentity theft, non-delivery of payment or merchandise and scammers impersonating the FBI topped the list of complaints to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) in 2010, with victims reporting hundreds of millions of dollars in losses.

The IC3, a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C), today released its 2010 Internet Crime Report, which provides a wealth of information about online crime, both nationally and on a state-by-state basis. The report also goes into detail about various types of online crime, criminals and their victims.Complaints of online crime to the IC3's website reached 303,809 in 2010, the second-highest total in its 10-year history. Complaints in 2009 were slightly higher, at 336,655, while 2008 yielded 275,284 complaints by consumers. During 2010, the IC3 received and processed an average of 25,000 complaints per month.

"The 2010 Internet Crime Report demonstrates how pervasive online crime has become, affecting people in all demographic groups," the report said. "As this report demonstrates, cyber criminals have become more creative in devising ways to separate Internet users from their money."

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Below are the top 10 types of online crime reported to the IC3 in 2010:

Top 10 Types of Internet Crime
  1. Non-delivery Payment/Merchandise 14.4%
  2. FBI-Related Scams 13.2%
  3. Identity Theft 9.8%
  4. Computer Crimes 9.1%
  5. Miscellaneous Fraud 8.6%
  6. Advance Fee Fraud 7.6%
  7. Spam 6.9%
  8. Auction Fraud 5.9%
  9. Credit Card Fraud 5.3%
  10. Overpayment Fraud 5.3%
Although not every complaint involves a financial loss, the IC3 compiles them all for informational purposes and to help identify emerging trends. Complaints that do include a reported dollar loss or other kind of victimization are referred to law enforcement. Of the 303,809 complaints in 2010, 121,710 were referred to various law enforcement agencies nationwide.

During the past 10 years, the report notes, auction fraud outnumbered other types of complaints by a large margin, accounting for 71.2 percent of all referrals in 2004. But auction fraud accounted for just over 10 percent of referrals last year, which the IC3 said "demonstrates the growing diversification" of online crime. Below are the top 10 types of online crime the IC3 referred to law enforcement:

Top 10 Types of Referred Complaints
  1. Non-delivery Payment/Merchandise 21.1%
  2. Identity Theft 16.6%
  3. Auction Fraud 10.1%
  4. Credit Card Fraud 9.3%
  5. Miscellaneous Fraud 7.7%
  6. Computer Crimes 6.1%
  7. Advance Fee Fraud 4.1%
  8. Spam 4.0%
  9. Overpayment Fraud 3.6%
  10. FBI-Related Scams 3.4%
Demographically, most complaints to the IC3 tended to come from men aged 40 to 59 who resided in California, Florida, Texas and New York. Although male complaints to the IC3 used to outnumber those by females by a ratio of 2.5 to 1, the gender gap has all but vanished, with both sexes now reporting an almost equal number of online crimes.

In 2010, men reported a loss of $1.25 for every $1 reported by a woman. Most foreign complaints to the IC3 were from Canada, Australia, India and the United Kingdom. Below are breakdowns of U.S. complainants by state and age:

Top 10 States by Individual Complaints
  1. California 13.7%
  2. Florida 7.9%
  3. Texas 7.3%
  4. New York 5.8%
  5. New Jersey 4.3%
  6. Pennsylvania 3.6%
  7. Illinois 3.3%
  8. Virginia 3.0%
  9. Ohio 2.9%
  10. Washington 2.9%
Age Range of Complainants
  • Under 20 – 3.2%
  • 20-29 – 18.8%
  • 30-39 – 20.2%
  • 40-49 – 22.1%
  • 50-59 – 22.1%
  • Over 60 – 13.6%
When information on those who commit online crime was available, nearly 75 percent of them were male, and more than half were residents of California, Florida, New York, Texas, the District of Columbia or Washington. Most foreign cyber-criminals reported to the IC3 were from Canada, Nigeria and the United Kingdom. Below are the top 10 states where online criminals reported to the IC3 reside:

Top 10 States by Online Criminals
  1. California 15.8%
  2. Florida 9.8%
  3. New York 8.5%
  4. Texas 6.9%
  5. District of Columbia 5.1%
  6. Washington 4.0%
  7. Georgia 3.9%
  8. Illinois 3.1%
  9. Pennsylvania 2.6%
  10. Arizona 2.6%
"We have implemented new tools to help law enforcement bring online criminals to justice," Gordon M. Snow, assistant director of the FBI's Cyber Division, said in a statement. "We encourage individuals to report Internet crime through the IC3 web portal."

For more information, see the full report.

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