Computer Crime Research Center


No e-fraud in Nevada, local sheriff says

Date: October 29, 2005

Nevada ranks seventh in the nation in the number of Internet fraud reports, according to FBI statistics, but Churchill County residents don't appear to be falling for the increasing number of online scams.

Churchill County Sheriff Richard Ingram said the sheriff's office has not taken any reports from residents who were victims of fraud over the Internet.

"We do get occasional reports of solicitation of the Nigerian scam or twists on that," he said.

Last year, Nevada's Internet Fraud Complaint Center received 616 complaints. Most of the complaints - 66 percent - centered on online auction fraud. Other complaints include non-delivery of merchandise, 13 percent; credit card fraud, 10.3 percent; and check fraud, 2.3 percent. Consumers lost an average of $372 for each fraudulent transaction.

Because of the rising number of Internet fraud complaints, the 1999 Nevada Legislature created a task force to deal with the problem. The Nevada Cyber Crime Task Force is a group of state law enforcement agencies committed to the arrest and prosecution of criminals who use the Internet to commit crime.

The Churchill County Sheriff's Department and the Fallon Police Department are both part of the task force. The agency has offices in Reno and Las Vegas, including a new 9,600 square-foot building in North Las Vegas devoted to computer forensic examinations, technical assistance to police, the courts and prosecutors, and training sessions.

The center also offers educational programs to promote the ethical and safe use of computers. The Nevada Attorney General's Office is alerting Nevadans about Internet fraud this month, which is Cyber Security Awareness Month.

"Nevadans need to be cautious when they buy products or make deals over the Internet," said Attorney General Brian Sandoval, who is chairman of the task force. "Unfortunately, not everyone peddling items on the Internet is honest, or even legitimate."

Chat rooms have been identified as a prime avenue for child predators to meet children. But 60.3 percent of Internet fraud victims in Nevada were contacted by e-mail. Another 22.7 percent were contacted through a Web page and 1.3 meet in a chat room.

The sheriff's office hasn't needed to use the task force services yet.

Ingram said he hopes local residents are becoming educated about the various ways criminals are using the Internet to cheat unsuspecting people.

He said he received an e-mail from Pay Pal recently saying he needed to update his information. Since Ingram knew he wasn't a member, he promptly hit the "delete' key.

"I would really like to think that through articles in the paper and word of mouth people are becoming more savvy and delete those or call and try to confirm it," he said.

He said anyone who thinks they have received a suspicious e-mail should call the sheriff's office at 423-3116
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