2011 IC3 – Internet Crime Report

Pierluigi Paganini May 15, 2012

In this article I desire to discuss about the data provided in the 2011 IC3 Internet Crime Report that provide evidence of the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) against cybercrime in US and of the obtained results. On May 8, 2000 from a partnership between NW3C, BJA and the FBI was born The Internet Fraud Complaint Center with the purpose to address online frauds. Three years later the center changed its name to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3®) and its mission became the fight against cyber crimes of all types.

The Internet Crime Complaint Center serves as an institution to gather, develop and refer criminal complaints regarding the rapidly expanding of cybercrime, it gives the victims a convenient and easy-to-use reporting mechanism that alerts authorities to suspected criminal or civil violations.

The reports shows an increasing of internet crimes respect previous year, in 2001 the center received over 300,000 complaints with an increase of 3.4-percent and the total loss was $485.3 million.


Let’s give a look to the overall statistics related to 2011:

  • Total complaints received: 314,246
  • Complaints reporting loss: 115,903
  • Total Loss: $485,253,871*
  • Median dollar loss for those reporting a loss: $636
  • Average dollar loss overall: $1,544
  • Average dollar loss for those reporting loss: $4,187

An interesting observation is that of all the complaints only 36.9 percent reported financial loss, this data could be interpreted in different way, assuming the efficiency of prevention action or only considering that some complaints are only related to tentative of crime. What is interesting is that analyzing all complaints reported is helpful in identifying trends and building statistical reports on the crimes.

Each complaint submitted to the IC3 follow a specific lifecycle that make possible its analysis and the comparison with similar event for crime persecution and prevention for the future. The functions of IC3 center are crucial in the fight against cybercrime, the principal are the analysis of complaints, collection of relevant case information and the providing of public service announcements.

The results of the activities are shared with state, local, tribal, federal and international law enforcement personnel via email and through www.ic3.gov website.

To identify links and commonalities between complaints IC3 analysts use an automated matching system that aggregates them in groups for law enforcement. In 2011 the 314,246 complaints received have been grouped in 47,592 used for analytical review.

Which were the most reported offense during last year?

The Top five crime type are:

  1. FBI-related Scams – Scams in which a criminal poses as the FBI to defraud victims.
  2. Identity Theft – Unauthorized use of a victim’s personal identifying information to commit fraud or other crimes.
  3. Advance Fee Fraud – Criminals convince victims to pay a fee to receive something of value, but do not deliver anything of value to the victim.
  4. Non-Auction/Non-Delivery of Merchandise -Purchaser does not receive items purchased.
  5. Overpayment Fraud – An incident in which the complainant receives an invalid monetary instrument with instructions to deposit it in a bank account and send excess funds or a percentage of the deposited money back to the sender.
According the report FBI-related scams were the most reported, second place for identity theft followed by advance fee fraud.

Of course of the primary activities is to provide prevention services through an alert system based on the analysis of complaints to rapidly identify any kind of internet crimes and provide a prompt alert.

In this perspective it is easy to understand how is crucial the gathering of complaints made by the IC3 that uses date to prepare public service announcements (PSAs) on the latest cyber trends to keep users and industry up-to-date on Internet fraud.

IC3 distributes these PSAs through media outlets, corporate partners and its web site www.ic3.gov.

Concluding I find really important the providing of IC3 services, an indispensable action to reduce and prevent the increasing of cybercrimes. What is really interesting is the shortcut that these services create between law enforcement and victims allowing to promptly response to internet crime.

The time factor is essential in the fight to the internet crimes and the services provided by the Center allow inform internet community in real time also on suspect violations and frauds.

IC3 represents a perfect example on how technological services could help in the prevention and analysis of criminal activities highlighting that the real weapon against the crime is the awareness and the information sharing.

Pierluigi Paganini


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