Computer Crime Research Center


A new initiative to fight internet fraud

Date: November 01, 2005
Source: Business Wire

How many times have you seen an offer on the Internet that caused you to think "this just looks too good to be true"? Today's consumer is inundated with all kinds of offers, has access to an unprecedented array of services and products from all over the world, and doesn't even have to leave home to take advantage of them. The Internet is usually a safe and convenient place for consumers to do business, but swindlers also see this as a convenient place to do their business - fraud.

According to the Internet Crime Complaint Center, 207,449 complaints were reported in 2004, a 66.6 percent increase over 2003; the total monetary loss from all referred cases of fraud was $68.14 million with a median dollar loss of $219.56 per complaint.

To combat these cyber outlaws, the LooksTooGoodToBeTrue initiative, an Internet fraud prevention campaign being jointly undertaken by federal law enforcement agencies and major corporations, was announced today. The Merchant Risk Council and major corporations Monster Worldwide, Inc. (NASDAQ: MNST), parent company of the leading global online career and recruitment resource, Monster(R), and Target Corporation have joined the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National White Collar Crime Center's Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) in this education and awareness campaign.

The cornerstone of this Internet fraud prevention campaign is the website Developed by the joint industry/law enforcement group, the site offers consumers in-depth information on the latest Internet scams, including auction fraud, identity fraud, reshipping scams and foreign lotteries. It also alerts the American public to scams related to Hurricane Katrina and other disasters. In addition, the site offers prevention tips to web users and an online risk assessment test to determine how vulnerable users are to scams. Consumers can file complaints via the site and can order "Web of Deceit," a free DVD on Internet fraud prevention produced by the Postal Inspection Service.

Experts Speak About the Increasing Danger of Internet Fraud

"Telemarketing and mail fraud scammers of the past have retooled their scams for the Internet and are now targeting unsuspecting consumers in online schemes."

- Lee Heath, Chief Postal Inspector

"Law enforcement is challenged by Internet schemes because they cannot be confined within national boundaries or investigative jurisdictions. Therefore, it is critical to educate and empower consumers with knowledge to avoid cyber criminals."

- Louis M. Reigel, III, Assistant Director, FBI Cyber Division

"We realize that law enforcement can only do so much with some of these fraud cases, and that is why industry collaboration is essential."

- Tracy L. Brown, Co-chair, Merchant Risk Council

"The most effective way to combat the increasing prevalence of Internet fraud is having federal agencies and corporations work together to arm consumers with the information and resources they need to protect themselves."

- Andrew McKelvey, Chairman and CEO, Monster Worldwide

"NW3C is pleased to be a part of the campaign. Not only will the site serve as a centralized source to educate and support the intended victims of internet related crimes, but it will also enhance NW3C and IC3's mission of supporting state and local law enforcement agencies nationwide in the fight against this borderless crime."

- Donald J. Brackman, Director, National White Collar Crime Center

Consumer Protection Tips

Consumers are encouraged to be on guard when they are online. As part of their vigilance, consumers should take these steps to protect themselves:

-- Be suspicious of emails that appear to be from banks, online auction sites or other retailers. Usually they ask you to correct mistakes in your account information or to provide other personal information.

-- Never use a link in an email to visit any website if the email is asking for sensitive personal information or if you have any doubt at all about the sender or site. Instead, type in the address that you normally use to log onto the site.

-- If you have doubts, call the business on the telephone. You should always be able to resolve any issues with the customer service representative if the company is legitimate.

-- Only purchase goods and services from sites you trust. Software makes it easy to create websites and emails that look exactly like the real ones. Examine all offers carefully before purchasing.

With over 30 percent of the U.S. population shopping online, the opportunities for fraud over the Internet are on the rise. Fraud can be avoided if consumers follow the simple steps listed above when they shop online.

For more information and protection tips, visit

For more information on the Merchant Risk Council, visit

Background on Joint Law Enforcement/Industry Task Force

While the Internet can be a safe and convenient place to do business, scammers are out there in cyber world targeting unsuspecting consumers. The website was built to educate consumers and help prevent them from becoming victims of Internet fraud schemes.

The website was developed and is maintained by a joint federal law enforcement and industry task force. The United States Postal Inspection Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have provided funding for the site. Key partners include the National White Collar Crime Center, Monster Worldwide, Target and members of the Merchant Risk Council.

Press Conference Today

A press conference detailing this initiative and featuring some of the experts above will take place today at 1:00 p.m. EDT at the National Press Club (Murrow and White Rooms), 529 14th Street, 13th Floor, Washington, DC.
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