Online fraud is big business for criminals. The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), jointly run by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National White Collar Crime Center, reported receiving over 289,000 complaints in 2012, which resulted in more than $525 million dollars in losses.
Many long-running telemarketing and mail fraud techniques are now being used on the Internet, with criminals preying on people’s trust to bilk Americans out of millions of dollars. In addition, some criminals target older Americans or small businesses with specific scams.
Common online fraud scams include:
- People selling items, such as automobiles, that they do not own. These transactions can take place over sites like Craigslist or eBay, with the buyer transferring money electronically and receiving no product in return.
- Phishing and spoofing, where criminals pretend to represent a legitimate company or agency and request personal information from their targets. These attempts can include a legitimate-looking email or website. In these cases, the criminals have “spoofed” a real company’s site.
- Nigerian letter scam, where people are offered to share in a large sum of money if they can help place this money in overseas bank accounts. Victims give criminals their bank account information and send money to the criminals to help pay for bribes and taxes with the promise of repayment.
Source: U.S. Department of Homeland Security
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