419 scams clean out gullible US victims
Internet fraud triples year-on-year...
The FBI has reported that internet fraud in the US cost its victims around £35m last year - compared with £11m in 2001 - with the notorious Nigerian 419 scam causing the largest single monetary losses.
The FBI's internet fraud unit said the number of complaints it referred to law enforcement authorities tripled last year, as did the cost of fraud to victims.
The bureau's Internet Fraud Complaint Centre (IFCC), which launched in May 2000 and is managed in part by the National White Collar Crime Centre (NW3C), said it referred 48,252 complaints out of the 75,063 it received last year. That's nearly three times the 16,775 complaints it referred in 2001.
The monetary loss associated with fraud more than tripled, to $54m (£35m) from $17m, in the same period.
Monetary losses were highest for those complaining about the notorious 419 scam fraud. On average, victims who fell for the money-laundering ploy lost $3,864. People who claimed to be victims of identity theft lost an average of $2,000, and those who suffered cheque fraud lost $1,100.
In a statement Jana Monroe, assistant director of the FBI's Cyber Division, said: "The IFCC helps victims by putting fraud information into the hands of law enforcement and then fosters interagency cooperation so these complaints are responded to quickly."
Auction fraud led the pack, as it did in 2001 and 2000, accounting for 46 per cent of complaints the unit referred to law enforcement in 2002. Online auctioneers have been the target of numerous fraud schemes, ranging from sellers bidding on their own auctions to artificially jack up the price, to identity-theft schemes.
Instances of non-delivered merchandise and non-payment made up 31 per cent of referred complaints, and credit card or debit card fraud came in third with just shy of 12 per cent.
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