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Report: Cyber crime losses totaled $525 million in 2012

The Internet Crime Complaint Center -- otherwise known as IC3 -- recently released the results of its 2012 Internet Crime Report, which provides an in-depth look at some of the cyber crimes and other types of fraud perpetrated here in the U.S. and across the globe over the course of the last year.

For those unfamiliar with IC3, it was essentially born out of a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National White Collar Crime Center, and its stated purpose is "to serve as a vehicle to receive, develop, and refer criminal complaints regarding the rapidly expanding arena of cyber crime."

According to the report, IC3 received nearly 290,000 complaints from victims in 2012, the majority of which originated here in the United States. The state with the highest volume of complaints was California, which was trailed by Florida, Texas, New York, and New Jersey.

The IC3 report also indicated that total losses from these complaints reached nearly $525.5 million, with victims losing an average of $4,600.

Two of the more common types of fraud committed in 2012, included the following:

  • Ransomware and scareware: In general, computer users are suddenly confronted with pop-up screens falsely informing them that 1) their computer is infected with a virus that can only be removed by purchasing a certain antivirus software or 2) they have violated a federal law and have to pay a fine to the Department of Justice 
  • Auto fraud: Here, people post online advertisements selling cars that they don't actually own at incredibly low prices. Those who perpetrate the crimes often claim that the prices are so low because they have extenuating family circumstances, must relocate for work or are being deployed to a foreign nation.

Fortunately, the IC3 report does offer a few basic tips that consumers can take to protect themselves from cyber crime, including avoiding transactions with sellers who only accept cash, exercising caution when responding to email offers from unknown parties and reporting any suspected fraud to authorities as soon as possible.

If you have been charged or are currently under investigation for online fraud or any other white collar crime, be certain to contact an experienced legal professional.

This post was provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.

Source: The Humble Observer, "FBI: Texas ranks third in Internet fraud complaints, report shows," May 14, 2013