Wednesday, May 23, 2012

According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), internet scams including identity theft, romance and advance free fraud have cost the U.S. over $450M USD in 2011, and those figures only account for reported crimes.  It is estimated 80% of such crimes go unreported.

Most common scam targeting Americans is cyber criminals approaching internet users on social networking sites and online dating sites, trying to be your “friend” or gain your confidence.  Once they have an open line of communication, they can usually proceed to steal your identity, or money.   The combinations and approaches used are endless, and anyone can be a victim.  In some cases the red flags are easy to spot, in other cases it may only take clicking on a link. 

Online shopping is also a main concern of internet security for the American government, the FBI and international investigators, as millions of emails are sent everyday offering victims bargains and deals that seem confusingly legit and authentic.  All it takes is a click on a bad link, or a visit to the wrong website and your computer maybe downloading a virus to take your passwords.

Overpayment fraud is a big concern now-a-days as victims get a check with instructions to deposit it in a bank account and send excess funds or a percentage of the money back to the sender. Private investigators explain that if caught, the sender (usually the victim) could also be charged in the scam, even though he was not aware of the crime he was committing when sending funds.

Most of these types of crimes come from people overseas located in the Philippines, Nigeria, Ghana, Ukraine, Russia, Malaysia and China, although there are no criminal operations from all over the world including the developed nations.  For a list of countries where private investigators actively screen for fraud and scams, click here. Before making any payment, consumers should confirm where does money comes from and who they are dealing with.

The Internet Crime Complaint Center has reported that financial losses in 2011 were over $450 M USD, and romance scams are playing a major role in crime trend.  With more people connecting on social media and online dating sites like and Facebook, there is more fraud risk in relationships and more verification needed.  Profiles are easy to fake and identities are easily taken from the internet, so verifying someone you met online is often very difficult or impossible without the help of a trained private investigator or reputable private investigation firm.

Even all the efforts to inform the internet community about the threats of internet relationships, people still want to believe they are dating someone who is decent and honest, and find hard to believe the person on the other side of the wire can be a professional criminal.

Internet scams usually result in monetary and emotional distress for victims, and the crime is more serious than more people believe.  The result is also very costly to the global economy.  So, do yourself and the world a favor and be cautious in relationships on the internet.

Best of luck,

A Hathaway
© 2012 A Hathaway 

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This copyrighted article was written and published by the editor and site author, A. Hathaway, or other guest private investigator, expert or contributor as noted.