Are You Safe Online? The Statistics Tell the Story
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Romance scams and internet fraud are now impacting individuals and economies around the world. Law enforcement, governments and private enterprise have yet to find an effective way to combat the growing problem. As internet users become more aware of the risks, criminals become more savvy at scam techniques used to steal your money. Scam and fraud methods range from romance scams, investment scams, identity theft and business fraud. Some private investigators and fraud experts caution that the situation is spiraling out of control. What is certain, is that as more people connect and begin relationships online, there is greater risk for misrepresentation and fraud. Wymoo® International has released an important infographic revealing the global impact of this trend.
Below are just a few alarming statistics from the research:
These numbers represent only a small fraction of the actual numbers worldwide, as most victims do not report the crime to authorities because they feel too embarrassed.
There are over 200,000 romance scam victims each year in the U.K., from dating and social networking sites.
Identity theft costs the United Kingdom over $2.7 billion pounds a year, and results in over 1.8 million victims a year, according to the National Fraud Authority.
The Office of Fair Trading in the U.K. reports there are over 3 million British victims a year.
Annually, there are more than 10 million victims of identity fraud in the United States, resulting in financial losses of over $50 billion USD in the U.S. in 2011 alone.
The FBI sponsored website, IC3.gov, received complaints from romance scams reporting losses of over $50.4 million USD in 2011, and only a small percentage report the crime.
Most internet criminals make contact with victims through online dating sites and social networking sites, such as Match.com and Facebook and countless others worldwide.
One in three internet users worldwide regard the web as a good place to find a partner. However, an estimated 25% of all internet profiles contain false data or photos.
There are now over 1,500 online dating sites in the United States alone.
In Australia, there are over 800,000 scam and fraud victims annually. These crimes result in over $1 billion USD in losses each year, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
In Australia, government officials estimated that only 2.5% of all internet crimes are reported.
According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, only 5 percent of all victims report the crime.
Investigation companies like Wymoo and internet privacy advocates urge consumers to guard their private information and avoid posting personal information on the internet, whenever possible. Think twice before “sharing” personal data online, and know that no site is 100% immune from fraud and scams. The smaller your internet footprint the better, say investigators. Law enforcement agencies are increasingly working cases where the criminal obtained information about his victim via the internet. The more data a criminal can find about you, your age, date of birth, address and place of employment, the easier it is for you to be a victim. Stay safe. Know the risk, and when in doubt, consult a reputable private investigator for a discreet background check.
Stay skeptical and safe online. Verify first, then decide.
Best of luck,
© 2012 A Hathaway