While the internet provides many benefits, it also creates numerous opportunities for criminal activity. Internet fraud is a category of white collar crime that includes several different activities and schemes. Due to the nature of the internet, it may be hard for Tennessee victims and law enforcement personnel to find and prosecute criminals. Understanding the signs of potential internet fraud may help potential victims avoid losing their financial assets.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation provides a list of common internet fraud schemes. Most center on trying to steal a victim's money and/or identity:
- Email account compromise
- Spoofing or phishing
- Data breaches
- Non-delivery of merchandise
The common factor in all of these crimes is the use of computer software and/or the internet. Criminals may also use the internet to gain access to their victims and to facilitate the fraud. For example, most non-delivery of merchandise schemes start with transactions on internet auction sites.
The FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center partner together to manage the Internet Crime Complaint Center. The IC3 organization provides citizens with statics and information related to internet crime along with helpful prevention tips. According to the IC3 annual report, there were over 65,000 victims of non-delivery crimes in 2018. Personal data breaches accounted for over 50,600 victims, and there were over 26,000 victims of phishing schemes.
IC3 provides several tips to help people avoid becoming victims of internet fraud. These include keeping computer security software updated and accessing websites through URLs instead of email links. Individuals may be able to avoid auction fraud by purchasing delivery insurance and reading through a seller's feedback and policies thoroughly before making a payment. Being vigilant and performing thorough research are essential steps for reducing the risk of internet fraud.