Every year the Internet Crime Complaint Center, known as IC3, releases their report of the complaints they have received throughout the prior year. This information in gathered through the reports made by victims of cybercrime to IC3. It is then analyzed and reported to authorities at all levels in order to help law enforcement fight cybercrime. The information is also used to make important Public Service Announcements, which help make the public aware of new cybercrime scams and other exploits against citizens. This awareness is an incredibly important step in helping prevent individuals from becoming victims.

This year saw a rise in complaints received by the IC3, with the total number reaching 314,246. The Average dollar loss (for those who reported a monetary loss) was $4,187. Believe it or not, scams which purported to be from FBI topped the list of fraud types reported. The other four types of cybercrime that showed up in these results were identity theft, advance fee fraud, merchandise not delivered, and overpayment fraud. Auto fraud scams alone cost complainants $8.2 million dollars in loss. Romance scam losses amounted to $5700 per hour or $50 million overall. In these romance scams, women aged 50-59 had triple the rate of complaints and nearly 6 times the amount of loss as men in the same age bracket. There was also a rise in something IC3 calls “double dipping” which is where a criminal goes back to the victim and attempts to rectify the situation only to scam them again.

Scams which promised individuals “work from home” jobs were one of the main characteristics of those scams reported. There were over 17, 000 of these complaints and victims are not only conned out of money and time in these scams, but often can be charged with money laundering due to the nature of the “work” they are asked to perform. The total loss for this type of scam was over $20 million and females aged 20-29 seemed to be the largest group of individuals to report becoming a victim.

The information in the 2011 IC3 report mirrors what we see on a daily basis here at the ITRC and we are glad to be able to see the trends and predictions of what we may be dealing with next. One thing is for sure, with new ways to defraud individuals via computers every day, the IC3 report will continue to grow and hopefully help consumers avoid some of these terrible fates.