Home San Diego Press Releases 2013 2012 Internet Crime Report Released

2012 Internet Crime Report Released
More Than 280,000 Complaints of Online Criminal Activity Reported in 2012

FBI San Diego May 14, 2013
  • Darrell Foxworth (858) 320-8302

Today, the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) released the 2012 Internet Crime Report, a summary of reported fraudulent activity, including data and statistics. In 2012, the IC3 received and processed 289,874 complaints, averaging more than 24,000 complaints per month. Unverified losses reported to IC3 rose 8.3 percent over the previous year.

A new section in this year’s report includes charts for each of the 50 states detailing demographic, complaint, and dollar-loss data. The section allows for easy comparisons and convenient reference. Additional content includes frequently reported Internet crimes, case highlights, and graphs that explain the lifecycle of a complaint. The most common complaints received in 2012 included FBI impersonation e-mail scams, various intimidation crimes, and scams that used computer “scareware” to extort money from Internet users. The report gives detailed information about these and other commonly perpetrated scams in 2012. The IC3 works to educate the public and law enforcement about fraud trends.

“The 2012 Internet Crime Report reveals both the volume and the scope of Internet crime, as well as the efforts of IC3 and law enforcement to combat these crimes,” said National White Collar Crime Center Director Don Brackman. “As technology continues to advance, so will our efforts to stay one step ahead of cyber criminals.”

Richard A. McFeely, executive assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal, Cyber, Response, and Services Branch, said, “Criminals are increasingly migrating their fraudulent activities from the physical world to the Internet. Computer users who suspect or become victims of online fraud schemes—including suspicious e-mails, fraudulent websites, and Internet crimes—should report them to the IC3. The IC3 analyzes and makes connections among these reports and packages them for potential action by law enforcement.”

IC3 is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C), and the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA). Since its start in 2000, the IC3 has become a mainstay for victims reporting Internet crime and a way for law enforcement to be notified of such crimes. IC3’s service to the law enforcement community includes federal, state, tribal, local, and international agencies that are combating Internet crime

Report Highlights

  • The IC3 received nearly 290,000 complaints from victims.
  • Dollar losses arising from the 2012 complaints totaled almost $525.5 million.
  • Most complaints came from the U.S., but some were sent from Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, India, and other countries.
  • California had the highest percentage of complaints (13.41), followed by Florida, Texas, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Virginia, Ohio, and Washington.
  • Victims who reported losing money lost an average of nearly $4,600.
  • More than 82 percent of complainants were ages 20-50, while 14 percent were 60 and over, and just over three percent were under the age of 20.

Fraud Advice for Consumers

  • Be suspicious if the seller only accepts wire transfers or cash.
  • If purchasing merchandise, ensure it is from a reputable source.
  • Be wary of businesses that operate from P.O. boxes or mail drops.
  • If you receive an unsolicited e-mail, be very cautious when responding to offers and giving out personal or financial information. Also, do not click on the links in these e-mails; instead, go directly to the organization’s official website.

Frequently Reported Scams

  • Auto fraud: Criminals attempt to sell vehicles that they really do not own, usually advertising them on various online platforms at prices below market value. Often the fraudsters claim they must sell the vehicles quickly because they are relocating for work, are being deployed by the military, or have a tragic family circumstance and are in need of money. And in a new twist, criminals are posing as dealers rather than individual sellers.
  • FBI impersonation e-mail scam: The names of various government agencies and government officials have been used in spam attacks for some time, and complaints related to spam e-mail purportedly sent by the FBI continue to be reported with high frequency. These scams, which include elements of Nigerian scam letters, incorporate get-rich inheritance scenarios, bogus lottery winning notifications, and occasional extortion threats.
  • Intimidation/extortion scams: More popular ones involve payday loan scams (harassing phone calls to victims claiming they are delinquent on loan payments); process server scams (a supposed process server shows up at a victim’s house or place of employment but is willing to take a debit card number for payment in order to avoid court); and grandparent scams (fraudsters contacting elderly victims pretending to be a young family member in some sort of legal or financial crisis).
  • Scareware/ransomware: There are different variations of these scams, but one involves victims receiving pop-up messages on their computers alerting them to purported infections that can only be fixed by purchasing particular antivirus software. Another involves malware that freezes victims’ computers and displays a warning of a violation of U.S. law and directions to pay a fine to the U.S. Department of Justice.

For more tips, go to the IC3’s 2012 Internet Crime Report (www.ic3.gov) and our Internet Fraud webpage.

About IC3IC3 receives, develops, and refers criminal complaints of cybercrime. IC3 gives victims a convenient and easy-to-use reporting mechanism that alerts authorities of suspected criminal or civil violations. For law enforcement and regulatory agencies at the local, state, federal, and international levels, IC3 provides a central referral mechanism for complaints involving online crime.

- FBI.gov story on 2012 Internet Crime Report