Internet Crime and What You Can Do to Protect Yourself

The internet has gone a long way to increasing opportunities for people with disabilities. Today, one does not even need to leave the home to purchase a television, furniture or even a wheelchair. Websites like eBay, Craigslist and Amazon have made it extremely easy for anyone to make a purchase over the internet. So easy in fact that many individuals do not consider the possibility of a fraudulent transaction. However, it does happen. According to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), it received 206,884 complaint submissions for the year 2007. Just slightly lower (by 0.3%) than the year before, which was 207,492.

IC3 reports that 90,008 complaints of crime to federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies around the country for further consideration. The majority of cases referred alleged fraud and involved a financial loss on the part of the person making the complaint. The total dollar amount lost from these cases was $239.09 million with a median dollar loss of $680.00 per complaint. This was an increase from $198.44 million in total reported losses in 2006. Therefore, although the number of cases reported went down slightly, the actual cost to the person who suffers a lost went up.

The WC3 Statistical Breakdown
Perpetrators were predominantly male (75.8%) and half resided in one of the following states: California, Florida, New York, Texas, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Georgia. The majority of reported perpetrators were from the United States. However, a significant number of perpetrators also were located in United Kingdom, Nigeria, Canada, Romania, and Italy.

Among complainants, 57.6% were male, nearly half were between the ages of 30 and 50 and one-third resided in one of the four most populated states: California, Florida, Texas, and New York. While most were from the United States, IC3 received a number of complaints from Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, India, and Mexico.

Males complainants lost more money than females (ratio of $1.67 to every $1.00 lost per female). This may be a function of both online purchasing differences by gender and the type of fraudulent schemes by which the individuals were victimized.
Electronic mail (e-mail) (73.6%) and web pages (32.7%) were the two primary mechanisms by which the fraudulent contact took place.

The Agency claims that recent high activity scams in 2007 were those involving pets, checks, spam, and online dating sites, all of which have proven effective as criminal devices in the hands of fraudsters.

Who is WC3?
The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C), and the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA).

IC3's mission is to serve as a vehicle to receive, develop, and refer criminal complaints regarding the rapidly expanding arena of cyber crime. The IC3 gives the victims of cyber crime a convenient and easy-to-use reporting mechanism that alerts authorities of suspected criminal or civil violations. For law enforcement and regulatory agencies at the federal, state, local and international level, IC3 provides a central referral mechanism for complaints involving Internet related crimes

How do I file a complaint?

IC3 accepts online Internet crime complaints from either the person who believes they were defrauded or from a third party to the complainant. We can best process your complaint if we receive accurate and complete information from you. Therefore, we request that you provide the following information when filing a complaint:

- Your name
- Your mailing address
- Your telephone number
- The name, address, telephone number, and Web address, if available, of the individual or organization you believe defrauded you.

Specific details on how, why, and when you believe you were defrauded. Any other relevant information you believe is necessary to support your complaint.

File a Complaint at http://www.ic3.gov

Note The Following:

• Because IC3 is a partnership the proccesed complaints are forwarded to Federal, State, Local and International law enforcement agencies for action.
• It is at the discretion of receiving agency as to what type of action to take.
• Filing a complaint with IC3 does not mean that your credit card companies or banks have been notified of fradulent charges. It is your responsibility to notify your credit card company or bank directly.
• IC3 does not guarantee that information submitted to authorities on your behalf will remain confidential. The state that it depends on the State or Local laws.

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