WASHINGTON (CN) - A total of $265 million was lost to Internet fraud in 2008, an all time high, according to an Internet crime report released Monday. Americans made up the vast majority of scammers and victims and men lost $1.67 to every dollar lost by women.
The International Fraud Complaint Center was established by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2000 to process cyber crime complaints. The center releases its crime report annually.
On average, $931 dollars were lost for each of the 275,284 complaints filed worldwide.
A sum of 66 percent of perpetrators were American. The United Kingdom came second, home to 10.5 percent of the perpetrators. Nigeria came third, with 7.5 percent of internet scam artists.
Within the U.S., California had the highest number of perpetrators, at 15.8 percent. The District of Columbia and Nevada had the greatest number per capita, with perpetrators being 0.08% of their populations.
Of the victims, nearly half were between the age of 30 and 50. The age of a person corresponds to the amount of money they lose. Victims under 20 years old lost an average of $500 per scam while those over 40 lost roughly $1000 per scam.
There were three common scam scenarios in 2008. In the first scenario, a scam artist gains access to someone's email account and emails that person's contacts with an explanation that they are stranded in a foreign country, or some other bad situation. Under the guise of the stolen identity, they explain that they need money, and ask to have it wired to their bank accounts.
The second scenario is called overpayment. It works where a scammer and a victim agree to some deal where the scammer pays the victim money. The scammer then sends too much money to a victim, and asks for the excess to be repaid. The victim repays the scammer and later discovers that the initial payment made by the scammer was illegitimate and that they didn't get any money to begin with.
With the third scenario, a victim receives an email which falsely claims to be from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and which asks for personal information to investigate some sort of financial transaction, like the transfer of a surprise lottery winning to the victim's bank account. There have also been many reports that if the victim doesn't comply, the email threatens that the victims would be investigated for terrorism. The perpetrator then commits identity theft using the personal information of the victim.
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