UK nears US in cyber-crime, ahead of Nigeria, Romania

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The United Kingdom is listed second in a report on global cyber-crime statistics, behind the United States and ahead of cyber-crime “hotspots” Nigeria and Romania. The 2007 Internet Crime Report was released in April by the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), a joint operation between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National White Collar Crime Center.

Americans reported losses of US$240 million from global cyber-crime in 2007, a $40 million increase from 2006. The Internet Crime Complaint Center received 206,884 complaints of online fraud in 2007, a decrease from the previous year’s 207,492 complaints.

FBI special agent John Hambrick, in charge of the IC3 unit, told the Agence France-Presse “We’re seeing more schemes involving bigger ticket items, get-rich-quick and work-at-home schemes that involve higher dollar losses”. As the report only includes figures from crimes reported to law enforcement, it is likely that real crime numbers were higher.

We’re seeing more schemes involving bigger ticket items, get-rich-quick and work-at-home schemes that involve higher dollar losses.

FBI Cyber Division Assistant Director James E. Finch commented on the report: “The Internet presents a wealth of opportunity for would be criminals to prey on unsuspecting victims, and this report shows how extensive these types of crime have become … What this report does not show is how often this type of activity goes unreported. Filing a complaint through IC3 is the best way to alert law enforcement authorities of Internet crime.”

In response to the report’s release, the information technology consultancy Global Secure Systems (GSS) warned that the United Kingdom is becoming a hotbed of internet crime. According to the report, the UK accounts for 15.3 per cent of online crime from US crime reports. “This is significantly ahead of other cyber-crime hotspots such as Nigeria (5.7 per cent) and Romania (1.5 per cent),” said David Hobson, managing director of GSS, in an interview with vnunet.com.

The scammer tries to prey on victims who are kind of in tune with what’s going on in the world. The scam changes, but ultimately they’re preying on the good will of people.

The 2007 Internet Crime Report cites the top ten countries by amount of perpetrators of online crime. In descending order, the top ten list includes the United States, the United Kingdom, Nigeria, Canada, Romania, Italy, Spain, South Africa, Russia, and Ghana. Scammers living within the United States most often lived in California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas. Men lost more money to online fraud than women in 2007, and also accounted for 75 percent of cyber-crime perpetrators.

FBI spokeswoman Cathy Milhoan told CIO Today that online scammers attempt to take advantage of the good will of individuals, asking for money for purported charities during crises. “The scammer tries to prey on victims who are kind of in tune with what’s going on in the world. The scam changes, but ultimately they’re preying on the good will of people,” said Milhoan.

The most widely reported complaint was Internet auction fraud at 35.7 per cent of referred crime complaints. Other online criminal activities cited in the report include non-delivery of purchases and credit/debit card fraud, computer intrusions, spam/unsolicited e-mail, and child pornography. The report also seeks to raise awareness of other types of cyber-crimes, and describes steps individuals can take both to prevent internet crime, and to report it if they have been victimized.

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