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Six scary Internet crimes

The Internet Crime Complaint Center (otherwise known as IC3) has released a list of the top ranking Internet crimes since 2006. Find out what is haunting the Internet and how you can stay safe.

Auction fraud

A massive 44.5% of complaints to the IC3, a partnership of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National White Collar Crime Center, involve online auction fraud. This includes instances where a seller sends goods and doesn’t receive payment and vice-versa.

To protect yourself from phantom buyers and sellers:

Learn as much as you can about an auction site before buying goods on it. Find out what protection it can offer you – and never assume one site’s rules are the same as another's. Before bidding find out all you can about the seller. Avoid doing business with people you can't identify, especially those who try to lure you off the auction site with promises of a better deal. Consider taking out insurance on the purchase. Save all the information you acquire during the auction process. Never give out your social security number or drivers license number to the seller – always be vigilant for identity theft (ID) scams.


You have won an online auction, made the payment and are eagerly awaiting your prized purchase … but it never arrives. Some 19% of reported online crimes are non-delivery of bought goods. To avoid being tricked not treated:

Do some homework and try to check that you are buying from a reputable outlet. Attempt to get a physical address rather than merely a post office box. Call the seller to see if their contact numbers are correct and working before taking part in the auction. Be wary of sellers using a free email service that doesn’t require a verified credit card to open the account. Be cautious when dealing with sellers from outside the country – different international laws can make it difficult to resolve problems that arise. Check fraud

Check fraudsters have a number of things in common with vampires: they have been around a very, very long time; they hunt for victims; and they often say they live in far away countries from where the sell is being conducted and because of this they need to organize to send a check because a money order is too difficult.

The IC3 says that 4.9% of online crimes are check fraud. They cost victims on average nearly $3,800. Don’t fall under their spell. Garlic cloves won’t save you but common sense will. Avoid sales with buyers who claim that a check is the only way they can pay.

Credit card fraud

Hot on the heels of the check charlatans are credit card creeps. They commit 4.8% of Internet scams. To avoid falling prey to them always keep your digits a closely guarded secret.

Don't buy online with your card unless the website is a secure and reputable site. Sometimes a tiny icon of a padlock appears to symbolize a higher level of security to transmit data. This icon is not a guarantee of a secure site, but might provide you with some assurance.

Keep a list of all your credit cards and account information. Always check your bills and if anything looks suspicious contact your card issuer immediately.

Computer fraud

Have you been sent a Nigerian Letter recently? This scam involves the Nigeria-based sender requesting your bank details so they can supposedly deposit their money in your account. It is an extremely common example of computer fraud aiming to dupe you into giving away your personal information. It makes up 2.9% of online crimes according to the IC3 but fleeces victims on average of $5,100 making it the most costly web sting to become trapped in.

Keep safe by being sceptical of individuals representing themselves as Nigerian or foreign government officials asking for your help. Don’t believe their promises of large sums of money for your cooperation and guard your account information carefully.

Other gremlins

The above Internet crimes are not the only things that you need to protect against. Confidence fraud, financial institutions and investment fraud, identity theft and child pornography rounded out the Top 10 complaints to the IC3.

The good news is that assistance is at hand. Security solutions are readily available to help you keep the ghouls at bay. However, the main thing you require to stay safe is a healthy dose of common sense and cynicism. It also helps to stay up-to-date with the latest news about Internet intruders from websites such as the IC3’s, the FBI’s and other federal government sites such as Onguard Online.

For more information

PHT Consulting

1436 Harding Street NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49544


PHT Consulting