Computer Crime Research Center


Real threats of the virtual world

Date: August 24, 2004
Source: Computer Crime Research Center
By: Timofey Saytarly

Viruses and id thefts rain in on the Internet users who even don't report their losses.

Becky Worley, G4techTV columnist for software and technical products, wrote that malefactors know gaps in laws very well and deliberately plan their crimes that it appears hard for victims to receive aid. Steve, who didn't like to unveil his name, has lost $44,000 due to online escrow fraud on eBay. After agreeing on a price for the Porsche Boxster he never received the car, found out the doctor who had sold it to him didn't exist, and found out that his money was in Latvia.

After physically waiting in eBay's corporate lobby to file a report with company security, he filed another report with the FBI, which, Steve said, could do nothing because the value was less than $100,000.

Dan Larkin of the FBI's Internet Fraud Complaint Center (IFCC) says the monetary limit makes victims fume.

He says, "There is often a frustration because the individual filing the complaint is told the threshold -- the loss isn't high enough, so they think their case isn't getting any attention."

But Larkin explains that cases like Steve's are combined with additional, low-value cases.

"Actually," says Larkin, "that's part of the reason we set up the Internet Fraud Center. We wanted to build those complaints into a bigger case that will be worked by somebody, where there's one victim of an Internet scam there are usually lots more. This is a way of aggregating them."

For victims of escrow fraud, the embarrassment of being fooled, the loss of their hard-earned money, and their frustration with law enforcement's handling of Internet crimes, it all simply adds up to one miserable experience.

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