Dubious distinction: U.S. produces most cybercriminals -- and victims

Published 31 March 2009

Cybercriminals defrauded victims out of an estimated $265 million, with the average victim losing about $1,000; two out of three cybercriminals — and 93 percent of victims — were Americans

Cybercrime is on the rise, and the United States enjoys the dubious distinction of producing both the most cybercriminals and victims, according to a report obtained by the Guardian newspaper. The report from the Internet Crime Complaint Center, a public-private partnership between the FBI and the U.S.-based National White Collar Crime Center, says cybercrime reports rose by a third in 2008, hitting 275,284 complaints. Cybercriminals defrauded victims out of an estimated $265 million, with the average victim losing about $1,000. Popular online scams included fraudulent sales of goods that were never delivered, fake auctions on Web sites like eBay, and the classic “Nigerian scam,” in which victims provide access to personal accounts in exchange for nonexistent riches.

According to the report, two out of three cybercriminals were Americans while 93 percent of complaints were filed in the United States. The United Kingdom ranked as the second most popular home for cybercriminals, with 10 percent operating there.

Men may be to stronger sex, but not the smarter sex. Men were not only victimized more than woman in 2008, they also lost more money than women. According to the statistics compiled in the report, men prove to be the most gullible — with 55 percent of the victims being male, and nearly half aged 30 to 50. Men also tended to lose more money to scam-artists than women in a ratio of $1.69 lost per male to every $1 lost per female — though that may be more a reflection of the relative cost of the goods men buy on the Web.

Leslie Hoppey, an FBI cybercrime expert, told Guardian that Web users can protect themselves by following three simple rules: “don’t respond to unsolicited e-mails, be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as officials, and don’t click on links.”