IC3: 2011 Internet Crime Report

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Pierluigi Paganini

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(Translated from the original Italian)

In this article I will discuss the data provided in the 2011 IC3 Internet Crime Report from the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) which examines cybercrime in the US.

On May 8, 2000, from a partnership between NW3C, BJA and the FBI was born The Internet Fraud Complaint Center for the purpose of addressing online fraud. Three years later, the center changed its name to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) and its mission became the fight against cyber crime of all types.

The Internet Crime Complaint Center serves as an institution to gather, develop and refer criminal complaints regarding rapidly expanding of cyber crime, and it provides victims with a convenient and easy-to-use reporting mechanism to alert authorities of suspected criminal or civil violations.

The reports shows an increase internet crime with respect previous years:

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Let's take a look to the overall statistics related to 2011:

  • Total complaints received: 314,246
  • Complaints reporting loss: 115,903
  • Total Loss: $485,253,871*
  • Median dollar loss for those reporting a loss: $636
  • Average dollar loss overall: $1,544
  • Average dollar loss for those reporting loss: $4,187

An interesting observation is that of all the complaints, only 36.9 percent reported a financial loss. This data could be interpreted in different way, assuming the efficiency of preventative actions or in considering that some complaints are only related tentatively to a crime. Analyzing all complaints reported is helpful in identifying trends and building statistical reports on the crimes.

Each complaint submitted to the IC3 follows a specific lifecycle that makes it possible for analysis and comparison with similar events for crime prevention in the future.

The function of IC3 are crucial in the fight against cyber crime through the analysis of complaints, the collection of relevant case information and in providing of public service announcements.

The results of the activities are shared with state, local, tribal, federal and international law enforcement personnel via email and through the www.ic3.gov website.

(click image to enlarge)

To identify links and commonalities between complaints, IC3 analysts use an automated matching system that aggregates them into groups for law enforcement. In 2011 the 314,246 complaints received have been grouped in 47,592 categories used for analytical review.

Which were the most reported offenses last year?

The Top five crime type are:

  1. FBI-related Scams - Scams in which a criminal poses as the FBI to defraud victims.
  2. Identity Theft - Unauthorized use of a victim’s personal identifying information to commit fraud or other crimes.
  3. Advance Fee Fraud – Criminals convince victims to pay a fee to receive something of value, but do not deliver anything of value to the victim.
  4. Non-Auction/Non-Delivery of Merchandise -Purchaser does not receive items purchased.
  5. Overpayment Fraud – An incident in which the complainant receives an invalid monetary instrument with instructions to deposit it in a bank account and send excess funds or a percentage of the deposited money back to the sender.

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Of course, IC3's primary activity is to provide prevention services through an alert system based on the analysis of complaints and to rapidly identify any kind of internet crime and provide a prompt alert.

In this perspective it is easy to understand how crucial the gathering of complaints is by the IC3, which prepares public service announcements (PSAs) on the latest cyber trends to keep users and industry up-to-date on Internet fraud.

IC3 distributes these PSAs through media outlets, corporate partners and its web site www.ic3.gov.

In conclusion, I find IC3's services to be really important as an indispensable action to reduce and prevent the increase in cyber crime. What is really interesting is the shortcut that these services create between law enforcement and victims allowing for a prompt response.

The time factor is essential in the fight against internet crime, and the services provided by the Center allow for an informed internet community in real time.

IC3 represents a perfect example of how technological services could help in the prevention and analysis of criminal activities, and highlights that the real weapon against Internet crime is awareness and information sharing.

Cross-posted from Security Affairs

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