March 16, 2017

 FTC Releases Report on 2016 Complaints

Last week the Federal Trade Commission released complaint data for 2016.  The FTC data includes not only complaints made to the FTC itself, but also from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Postal Inspection Service, most State Attorneys General, Western Union, MoneyGram, and many other organizations.  Thus it contains the best overall data we are going to have on the amount of fraud and identity theft we have.

Unfortunately, though, the data is not as complete as it once was.   Fraud complaints also go the FBI’s Internet Fraud Complaint Center.  Under Janet Reno the IC3 began downloading its complaints into Sentinel.  In 2015, however, the FBI stopped contributing its complaints to Sentinel.  And the FBI has not yet released 2016 data. Thus the FTC’s new report omits a large part of the complaints it had relied on in previous annual reports.

Nonetheless, there are some interesting items in the new report:

  • In 2016 Sentinel received over 3 million complaints; 1.3 million of those are fraud related
  • These complaints reported total losses to victims of $744 million
  • The median loss was $450
  • For the first time there were more debt collection complaints than any other category (this could be in part because the CFPB now contributes complaints)
  • For the first time identity theft was second.
  • The third top category is impersonation complaints, which include a wide variety of different types of fraud, especially callers pretending to be with the IRS
  • For those who reported how they sent the money, 58% said it was wire transfer, most of which mean Western Union or MoneyGram
  • 77% of fraud victims were originally contacted by the telephone
  • 37% of complaints were from victims over 60 years old (20% 60-69; 17% over 70)
  • Of the ID theft complaints, 29.2% were for tax fraud, mostly meaning bogus tax returns
  • There was a noticeable increase in counterfeit check fraud
  • Complaints about text messages have gone up appreciably in the last two years
  • The FTC’s report also breaks down ID theft and fraud complaints into state by state lists and both are broken down by city as well

New Report on Cybercrime in West Africa by Interpol and Trend Micro

  • Says complaints about West African cyberfraud went up from 940 to 2182 between 2013– 2015
  • Half of 10 million college graduates each year in Nigeria are unemployed
  • “Yahoo Boys” begin with romance fraud, stranded traveler frauds, Nigerian prince letters
  • Move up to more sophisticated fraud such as Business Email Compromise
  • US is most targeted country for BEC
  • West African law enforcement has difficulty getting information from overseas
  • Crooks also target corporate health savings accounts

Correction:  Study on Cognitive Impairment in Older Victims

Last week we reported on new studies done by Duke Han, a professor at USC.  The studies were actually done at Chicago’s Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Clinic.  His blog said he regularly had patients referred to him for cognitive testing because they had given away thousands of dollars to strangers.  But in many cases he found that the patient was cognitively intact.

His subsequent studies led him to conclude that the relationship between cognitive ability or impairment and decision making is not as clear as some assume.

FDA warns of bogus internet pharmacies supposedly in Canada

FTC signs Memorandum of Understanding to work with the RCMP

Though the FTC and RCMP have had strong working ties for many years, the new MOU helps formalize that.

Craigslist rental fraud

Minnesota Department  of Commerce warns of Timeshare Resale Frauds Impersonating Real Businesses

IRS reports massive dent in identity theft

The IRS says the number of victims of ID theft due to fake taxes was down 46% in 2016

Still had 376,000 victims

 Study of Cyberfraud in Australia and New Zealand

48% of small and medium size businesses had a cyber attack in the previous 12 months

Average loss is $19,000

 MoneyGram for Sale?

Recently there was a report that the Chinese were thinking of buying the company.  Now news suggests that an electronic payment company is making a rival offer

New Survey on Extent of the Ransomware problem

 Police in Israel Arrest 20 as part of FBI effort to tackle Business Email Compromise Fraud.  Part of effort reported last week in the Fraud Report.

Romance Scams

Police in Malaysia Arrest six, including two Nigerians, for Romance scam against Philippine woman

Fake Checks

Bogus Tax Returns

Birmingham man sentenced for filing bogus tax returns

ATM skimming


Just for fun:

Is it wrong that only one company
makes the game Monopoly?

 Change is inevitable,
except from a vending machine.

I was going to wear my camouflage shirt today,
but I couldn’t find it.