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Internet crime complaints up 33 CUs report scams
WASHINGTON (4/1/09)--Complaints from victims of Internet crime rose 33% in the U.S. during 2008 from the year before, indicating that the economy's downturn is exacerbating electronic fraud, says the Internet Crime Complaint Center. And a number of credit unions in several states are warning about the latest rash on scams, some of them generated on the Internet. The Internet Crime Complaint Center tracks trends and refers cases to law enforcement agencies for investigation. It announced Monday it had processed a record 275,284 complaints last year, up from 207,000 in 2007 ( Associated Press via Google.com). The number of complaints filed each month grew as the year progressed and the economy deteriorated. October, November and December were three of the worst five months, the center said (Financial Times March 31). The total dollar loss reported from scams was $265 million, nearly $25 million more than the $239 million lost to Internet fraud in 2007. One-third of the complaints were over electronic correspondents failing to deliver promised goods or failing to pay for goods they received. Another 25% were fraud at auction sites such as Ebay and Craigslist. Men lost much more money to Web-based scammers than women. Among those who lost funds, men lost $1.69 for ever $1 women lost. The center said that differences in the kinds of shopping men and women do online and the different types of fraud they encounter, could be factors in the results. Paul Bresson, of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, said the study indicates that the economy is a factor. Unemployed people in hard times turn to crime while consumers who are pinching pennies are more gullible to too-good-to-be-true schemes. The past two weeks scam alerts and warnings have been sent to local media from credit unions in: Colorado Springs, Colo.; Jay, Maine; Dubuque, Iowa; Chicopee, Mass.; Pittsfield, Mass.; San Antonio, Texas; Beaumont, Texas; and Katy, Texas. They involved scams via automated telephone calls, text messages and e-mails. Many of the credit unions are educating their members and the public about what to do if they are approached with a possible fraudulent scheme.
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