Correction 2:19 p.m. PDT: An earlier version of this story and its headline significantly mischaracterized a key metric used in the IC3 report. The overall finding of the report was that complaints regarding Internet-related crimes rose 33 percent in 2008.
Complaints of Internet-related crimes soared 33 percent last year, countering two years of consecutive declines, according to a report released Monday by the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).
The IC3 Web site received 275,284 complaints last year, up from 206,884 the previous year. The organization referred 72,940 of those 2008 complaints to federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. The IC3 is a partnership among the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National White Collar Crime Center, and the Bureau of Justice Assistance.
Referred complaints, which ranged from online auction fraud to identity theft to non-delivery of goods purchased online, cost consumers about $264.6 million last year, with the median dollar loss reaching $931 per complaint, according to the report. In 2007, the losses were less: $239.1 million.
As far as complaint categories of Internet crimes, non-delivered merchandise after sending a payment or delivering the goods but never receiving a payment, were at the top of the list, according to the report. Of all complaints received, 32.9 percent were related to this offense.
Internet auction fraud accounted for 25.5 percent of the complaints, while credit card and debit card fraud made up 9 percent, according to the report.
Even though complaints of crimes involving non-delivered goods occurred the most, that category didn't hit consumers in the pocketbook like check fraud, which carried a median loss of $3,000.
And the most common means to engage in an Internet crime was e-mail, the report noted. In 74 percent of the reported crimes, e-mail was used, followed by Web pages in nearly 29 percent of the cases.