Internet Fraud

Internet FraudThe Internet is one of the greatest inventions of our times. A vast computer network spanning virtually the entire globe, it has enabled us in the past decade or so to share and access information, ideas, data, and personal communications, with anyone anywhere who has an Internet connection in a matter of minutes, even seconds. These tremendous benefits also allow for a serious vulnerability to fraud. If con men of the past had to contact their victims in person and were more vulnerable to detection, today’s online fraudsters are protected by the relative privacy and anonymity that the Internet provides, and furthermore, they can reach millions of people in a very short period of time, making their scams that much more profitable.

Much of Internet fraud is related to identity theft, where the goal of the cybercriminal is to steal a person’s private information (such as name, address, social security number, etc.) and use their identity for fraudulent purposes, for example to defraud a third party by assuming the fake identity. (For more information about this, as well as the often overlooked difference between identity fraud and identity theft, check out the relevant tab above.)

Another very common way for scammers to operate is through email spam and social networking / online dating sites, where they contact their victims (sometimes assuming a fake identity), and try to get their money by either promising an investment, asking for money for “emergencies,” etc. In particular, online dating scams are some of the most vicious because the victims tend to be more desperate, and thus more prone to deception and exploitation.