In 2009 the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) Web site received 336,655 complaint submissions. This was a 22.3% increase over 2008. The total dollar loss from all referred cases was $559.7 million with a median dollar loss of $575.
During 2009, email scams that used the FBI’s name was the offense most often reported to IC3, comprising 16.6% of all crime complaints. Non-delivery of merchandise and/or payment represented 11.9% of complaints. Advance fee fraud made up an additional 9.8% of complaints. Other top 10 complaint categories included identity theft (8.2%), overpayment fraud (7.3%), miscellaneous fraud (6.3%), spam (6.2%), credit card fraud (6.0%), auction fraud (5.7%), and destruction/damage/vandalism of computer property, (i.e.,“computer damage,” 4.5%)
Not surprising USA ranked highest with the number of perpetrators of cyber crime at 65.4%, the UK followed at 9.9%, and interestingly enough Nigeria was in third with 8.0% (looks like the old Nigerian email scam is still going strong!)
One of the more intriguing scams of 2009 was the “Hitman Scam,” a type of email extortion scheme. Victims are reportedly being threatened in an attempt to extort money. The victim receives an email from a member of an organization such as the “Ishmael Ghost Islamic Group.” The emailer claims to have been sent to assassinate the victim and the victim’s family members. The emailer asserts that the reason for the impending assassination resulted from an alleged offense, by the victim, against a member of the emailer’s gang. In a bizarre twist however, the emailer reveals that upon obtaining the victim’s information, another member of the gang (purported to know a member of the victim’s extended family) pleaded for the victim’s pardon. The emailer alleges that an agreement was reached with the pleading gang member to allow the victim pardon from assassination, if the victim takes some action such as sending $800 to a receiver in the United Kingdom for the migration of Islamic expatriates from the United States. Victims of this email are typically instructed to send the money via Western UnionÂ® or Money GramÂ® to a receiver in the United Kingdom. The emailer often gives the victim 72 hours to send the money or else pay with his/her life.
Fake Antivirus (Rogue products)
Of course high on the list was pop-up ads for fake antivirus software. Victims reportedly receive ads warning them of the existence of threatening viruses and/or illegal content allegedly found on the victim’s computer. When victims click on the fake pop-ups, malicious code is downloaded onto their computers. Victims are directed to purchase anti-virus software to repair their computers, but in some instances this resulted in viruses, Trojans, or key loggers downloaded onto their computers. Attempts to contact the anti-virus software companies were unsuccessful
All statistics in this post taken from the 2009 IC3 Report. (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).