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Online Scam : $485 million last year in United States


A report released on May 10 revealed that online scams cost Americans $485 million in 2011. The nature of the scams detailed in the report include identity theft, “romance fraud” and a newly emergent method involving fraudulent auto sales.

The data, collected by the Internet Crime Complain Center, indicates a 3.4 percent rise in the number of reported claims of online fraud from 2010. Of the total 314,000 complaints, 34,169 were from California, making it the the state most susceptible to cyber crime.

The most frequent form of online fraud reported include criminals posing as the FBI in order to attain personal details, advance fee fraud and identity theft.

One of the more creative methods, the aforementioned “romance fraud” involves criminals preying on the vulnerability of individuals seeking companionship online. The victims, usually divorced, widowed or advance aged, are led to believe they are engaging in a relationship and eventually divulge sensitive information costing them thousands. Over 5,600 complaints of romance scams have been reported.

Victims who reported financial losses were scammed out of an average of $4,187. However, victims of “romance fraud” incurred the most damages, averaging $8,900 per victim.

Experts agree that the best way to avoid online scams is to be skeptical of deals “too good to be true” and to ignore unsolicited prompts to download software.

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