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Cybercrime losses reached $560 million last year

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March 15, 2010

According to new numbers released last Friday, Cybercrime losses almost doubled in value from $265 million in 2008 to about $560 million in 2009. The annual report of the FBI-backed Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) reports that the unit handled no less than 336,656 complaints last year, a 22.4 percent increase when compared to numbers in 2008.

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Overall, 419 advanced fee fraud scams ranked third with almost ten per cent of all complaints. Identity theft and overpayment fraud scams were also common causes for other complaints as well.

About 15.9 percent of the complaints involved schemes where Cyber crooks pretended to represent the FBI, while almost 12 percent involved the non-delivery of merchandise, the second most commonly reported allegation of wrongdoing.

The highest median average dollar losses involved reported incidents of investment fraud, overpayment fraud and advance fee fraud complainants.

On any typical day, IC3 takes complaints in many different categories including auction fraud, non-delivery of merchandise, credit card fraud, computer hacking, spam and then child pornography.

In addition to federal agent inpersonators, popular scam trends for last year included hitman scams, astrological reading frauds, job site hustlers and pop-up ads for fake antivirus (aka scareware) software.

Of these complaints 146,664 were referred to local, state or federal law enforcement agencies. Referred cases commonly involved financial losses, focusing on five categories: non-deliverey of merchandise and/or payment ranked (20 per cent); identity theft (over 14 percent); credit card fraud (10.5 per cent); auction fraud (10.3 per cent); and computer fraud or hacking (almost 8 per cent).

The IC3 has published an annual report since it began operating almost ten years ago. Every year since then (with the exception of 2004) has witnessed an increase in the dollar value of alleged scams reported to the agency.

But these have largely taken the form of steady increases rather than the huge leap recorded last year.

In related cybercrime trend news, businesses lost a little under $120.3 million in the third quarter of last year to phishing and Trojan-based online banking scams, according to numbers from the the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).

Small businesses lost $25 million as part of these scams, FDIC specialist David Nelson told the RSA Conference on March 4th.

These latest numbers from the FBI are troubling and are indicative of a rapidly growing trend, not just in the U.S. but it many other countries as well.

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Source: The FBI.

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