Criminals are looking for Your Child on the Internet—Right Now!

Keeping Kids (and Yourself) Safe Online: Crime Prevention from Crime in America.Net

We offer a variety of articles on internet safety (see below) because it’s clear that criminal offenders are moving online in increasing numbers.

As Willie Sutton the bank robber said when asked why he robbed banks, “because that’s where the money is.” See for a fascinating account of Sutton’s life and whether or not the quote is truly his.

The internet is where the targets are. Sex offenders don’t need to hang out in malls trolling for children when they can do it more effectively and safely via the internet. The same applies to theft and fraud; why go door-to-door (and let all those witnesses identify you) when you can send phony e-mails asking you for your bank information and gain more money with less risk?

The internet “is” the new mall; the new neighborhood. And it lacks cops. For criminals, it’s the best of all possible worlds.

People who think that those engaged in crime aren’t sophisticated enough to manipulate the web are really kidding themselves.

A variety of federal agencies have released a booklet about keeping children safe while on the internet. The summary is simple:

Criminals are looking for your child via the internet

Children have to know when encounters are dangerous (when anyone contacts them that they do not know).

Keep an open line of communication with your children to the point that they are willing to discuss anything with you (yes, tougher than it sounds—especially with teenagers).

Understand that your children are very reluctant to come to you with questions because they believe that you will take their internet access away.

Educated and internet savvy adults are fooled every day by internet fraud. The e-mail asking you for personal information looks so official that it fools many—so why do you think your children will know when they are being probed for an attack?

See the material at

Internet Crime up 22 Percent

We previously reported that criminal offenders seem to be moving to the internet with increased vigor. From sex offenders to stalkers to those engaged in fraud, some offenders have figured out that they can accomplish their purposes or make more money with less risk via the internet.

The bottom-line for prevention is:

  • Simply do not give out information or provide money via anytype of solicitation (internet, phone, mail or text message) and do not call the phone number offered in the solicitation.
  • When in doubt, call your bank or credit card company.
  • The solicitations will look very official. Don’t be fooled.
  • They will warn you of dire consequences for lack of action. Don’t be fooled.
  • Never hesitate to call the organization via the phone number listed by the local telephone company.
  • Obviously, if you have a working relationship with the bank or credit card company or charity, you know the information received is legitimate.

 FBI Report

The following is a rearranged summation of the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center’s 2009 report. The link for the report is at the end of this post.

  • From January 1, 2009 through December 31, 2009, the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) Web site received 336,655 complaint submissions. This was a 22.3% increase as compared to 2008
  •  The total dollar loss from all referred cases was $559.7 million with a median dollar loss of $575. This is up from $264.6 million in total reported losses in 2008.
  •  Complaints received by IC3 cover many different fraud and non-fraud categories, including auction fraud, non-delivery of merchandise, credit card fraud, computer intrusions, spam/unsolicited email, and child pornography
  • Email scams that used the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) name (schemes in which the scammer pretended to be affiliated with the FBI in an effort to gain information from the target) represented 16.6% of all complaints submitted to IC3.
  • Non-delivered merchandise and/or payment (in which either a seller did not ship the promised item or a buyer did not pay for an item) accounted for 11.9% of complaints.
  • Advance fee fraud (a scam wherein the target is asked to give money upfront- often times- for some reward that never materializes) made up 9.8% of complaints.
  • Identity theft and overpayment fraud (scams in which the target is given a fraudulent monetary instrument in excess of the agreed-upon amount for the transaction, and asked to send back the overpayment using a legitimate monetary instrument) round out the top five categories.
  • Of the top five categories of offenses reported to law enforcement during 2009, non-delivered merchandise and/or  payment ranked 19.9%; identity thief, 14.1%; credit card fraud, 10.4%; auction fraud, 10.3%; and computer fraud (destruction/damage/vandalism of property), 7.9%.
  • Of the complaints involving financial harm that were referred to law enforcement, the highest median dollar losses were  found among investment fraud ($3,200), overpayment fraud ($2,500), and advance fee fraud ($1,500) complainants.
  • In those complaints in which perpetrator information is provided, 76.6% were male and half resided in one of the following states:
  1. California,
  2. Florida,
  3. New York,
  4. The District of Columbia,
  5. Texas,
  6. Washington.
  • The majority of reported perpetrators (65.4%) were from the United States. A number of perpetrators were also in the United Kingdom, Nigeria, Canada, Malaysia, and Ghana.
  • Among complainants, 54% were male, nearly two-thirds were between the ages of 30 and 50, and a little over one- third resided in one of the following states:
  1. California,
  2. Florida,
  3. Texas,
  4. New York.
  • The majority of complainants were from the United States (92%). However, IC3 received a number of complaints originating in Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, India, and Puerto Rico.
  • Male complainants lost more money than female complainants (ratio of $1.51 lost per male to every $1.00 lost per • female). Individuals 40-49 years of age reported, on average, higher amounts of loss than other age groups.
  • In addition to FBI scams, popular scam trends for 2009 included:
  1. hitman scams,
  2. astrological reading frauds,  
  3. economic scams,
  4. job site scams,
  5. fake pop-up ads for antivirus software.

 For the full report, see:

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