Cyber criminals stole more than $500 million last year, according to the latest IC3Â study based on reported incidents. In 2012, the organization received almost 300,000 complaints, an average of more than 24,000 a month. Compared to the previous year, losses by users tricked over the Internet increased by 8.3 percent.
Almost half of the complaints reported financial losses, and most of the users bilked last year were 40 to 59 years old. The average reported dollar loss for those reporting a loss was $4,573, while the average loss overall per complaint was $1,813. Some 91 percent of the complaints came from the US. The top three states scammed last year included California, Florida and Texas.
â€œCriminals are increasingly migrating their fraudulent activities from the physical world to the Internet,â€ Richard A. McFeely, executive assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal, Cyber, Response, and Services Branch, said.
â€œComputer users who suspect or become victims of online fraud schemes — including suspicious e-mails, fraudulent Web sites and Internet crimes — should report them to the IC3. The IC3 analyzes and makes connections among these reports and packages them for potential action by law enforcement.â€
The most popular scams last year were related to FBI impersonation e-mails, intimidation crimes, and scams that delivered scareware to extort money. One of the most effective was Citadel, which delivered the Reveton ransomware. Once the malware was installed, the userâ€™s computer froze and he was accused of violating U.S. federal law against child pornography.
In November last year, Bitdefender provided a free removal tool for the â€œpiracyâ€ Trojan. The malware infected millions of users worldwide with a fake police message accusing them of piracy.