Computer Crime Research Center


Nigerians on the top of Internet fraud

Date: April 10, 2006

Americans lost a record amount of money to Internet fraud last year, with the infamous Nigerian 419 scam nabbing the largest sums from individuals, according to new federal crime statistics.

Americans reported losing an all-time high of $183 million to Internet fraud in 2005, up 169 percent from $68 million the previous year, the Internet Crime Complaint Center said last week.

The center, which has been tracking Internet fraud trends for five years, is a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center, a congressionally funded organization that aids law-enforcement agencies.

Internet auction fraud accounted for 62 percent of the 97,076 Internet fraud complaints that the Internet Crime Complaint Center referred to law-enforcement agencies for investigation last year.

In a typical case of auction fraud, the victim buys goods or services through an online auction site such as eBay but never receives the merchandise after making payment. The reverse also occurs: The victim is auctioning goods, ships them to a buyer but never receives payment.

While Internet auction fraud was the most frequently reported offense, the highest individual losses were racked up by Nigerian 419 scams, a seemingly preposterous confidence game that nonetheless proves highly successful for criminals.
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