Is the FBI winning the war against cybercrime?
The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) was established in May 2000 as a partnership between the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Since then, the center has received nearly 1.5 million tips, ranging from online fraud and computer intrusion to economic espionage, money laundering, and child pornography.
"We have seen the number of complaints coming into IC3 increase year after year. Cybercrime is not going away and, in fact, is only going to continue as criminals become savvier," explained Don Brackman, Director of the NW3C.
"No one would have thought 10 years ago that we would have as many reports of cybercrime as we have today. As the Internet keeps evolving and as criminals keep thinking up new ways to take advantage of the public, IC3 will continue to look for ways we can help combat these types of crimes."
Unsurprisingly, the war against cybercrime shows no sign of letting up anytime soon.
Indeed, cyber scammers managed to bilk nearly $560 million from gullible Americans in 2009 - nearly double the amount online hackers stole the previous year.
Other notable scams included electronic correspondence originating from fraudulent used addresses, non-delivery of merchandise/payment, advance fee schemes, identity theft and overpayment fraud.
The FBI has also warned consumers about a new scheme that exploits telecommunications denial-of-service (TDOS) attacks to divert attention away from thefts which target banks and online trading accounts.
"During these TDOS attacks, online trading and other money management accounts are being accessed by the perpetrators who are transferring funds out of those accounts," explained a report in the Yeshiva World.
"The purpose of the malicious phone calls is to occupy the victim phone numbers on record with the financial institutions managing the accounts so that when the institutions contact the victim to verify the changes and transactions, the institution is unable to reach the victim...The victim has no idea what has really transpired until it's too late."
So what can be done to protect the general public against such schemes?
Michael B. Ward, Special Agent In Charge of the FBI's Newark division, recommended that consumers "emphasize strong security procedures" for all financial accounts.
"[This includes] placing fraud alerts on all of their financial accounts and with the major credit bureaus if they believe they may have been targeted by a TDOS attack or other form of fraud."
Peter Trahon, of the FBI's Cyber Division, expressed similar sentiments.
"Computer users are encouraged to have up-to-date security protection on their devices and evaluate email solicitations they receive with a healthy skepticism - if something seems too good to be true, it likely is."