When enough is enough?
The US Internet Fraud Complaint Center reported, for January 1, 2001 to December 31, 2001:
this same time period, the IFCC has referred 16,775 complaints of fraud, the majority of which was
committed over the Internet or similar online service. The total dollar loss from all referred cases of
fraud was $17.8 million, with a median dollar loss of $435 per complaint.
Internet auction fraud was by far the most reported offense, comprising 42.8% of referred
complaints. Non-deliverable merchandise and payment account for 20.3% of complaints, and
Nigerian Letter fraud made up 15.5% of complaints.
20 years later, from the IC3 Internet Crime Report for 2021:
In 2021, IC3 continued to receive a record number of complaints from the American public: 847,376 reported
complaints, which was a 7% increase from 2020, with potential losses exceeding $6.9 billion. Among the 2021
complaints received, ransomware, business e-mail compromise (BEC) schemes, and the criminal use of
cryptocurrency are among the top incidents reported. In 2021, BEC schemes resulted in 19,954 complaints with an
adjusted loss of nearly $2.4 billion.
The growth of online fraud quoted above includes only reports made by victims using the USA reporting system.
Many countries don’t have such systems allowing victims to report online fraud. The victims need to contact their local police, file a complaint and wait for someone to contact them.
That usually doesn’t happen, and even if it does, the contact is made with the sole purpose to notify the victim that the authorities cannot do anything about the fraudster, because no law enforcement representative has jurisdiction abroad, or that maybe there is not sufficient man power, or even maybe because the losses are not big enough.
In 20 years, based on reports made in a single country, we got from $17.8 million losses to potential losses exceeding $6.9 billion. Where do we go to from here?
The Internet looks more and more like a broken car, with the producers removing the internal safety features, seat belts, air bags and anything else built for safety because that reduces the speed of the car. You don’t even need a licence to drive the said car – no time for that since everyone pushes you to jump in and get what you need, on a road that looks like no one bothers to maintain it. If any accident happens, there is no responsibility, no insurance, no compensation and no blame for the road or the car producer – you’re the only one guilty and paying the price. Did we mention that we also removed the brakes to reduce the drag?
Let’s be honest: no person can live in a modern society without being forced to use the Internet in some way or another way.
It may have started as a “free for all” dream built on trust, but that dream comes with a heavy price today, making it look like it’s designed mostly for the ones knowing how to abuse it best to their own advantage. All accountability has been stripped away.
The average user might be the touted as the main beneficiary of these “improvements”, with the available structure crumbling under their feet while they are forced to keep move ahead. We need to learn about creating better passwords, identifying fraud to a point that surpasses the knowledge of many ITSec people, and protect ourselves, when even governments and corporations are failing. The marketing far exceeds the product.
The average internet user has no say. Only the ones paying the registration fee have any rights, regardless of being an upstanding citizen or a criminal.
No one asks how much of what we see today online is paid with stolen money; from fake accounts registered on paid dating sites with stolen credit cards to promotional ads on a social platform or in a search engine results. Nor what is real or what is fake, with very few caring enough to do something about it.
An online identity is only a few bucks away, regardless of the purpose for which the identity is created.
Online fraud is not possible without an online infrastructure created to support and perpetrate the fraud: fake websites, VIP numbers, promotional ads, email addresses.
We, the ones still stupidly believing that the Internet is a “free for all dream”, are not the Internet clients. We are the targets. Many of the “good” clients are the fraudsters paying for their fake websites, having their fake sites heavily promoted in the search engine results and on social platforms, protected by a system created to protect us, but hijacked to shield them.
There were ways to identify a fraudster and act against the fraud. Now, everything is covered in a blanket protection, hiding fraudsters and innocents alike, with the main difference being that innocents have nothing to hide but most to lose.
There were functional reporting systems in place to stop abuse.
Most of these are gone now; all that is left is excuses about why nothing can be done. Everyone is passing the responsibility to someone else in turn – consumer protection seems to be a snake eating itself.
Do we need to wait until there is nothing more left to steal or can we do something about it before that happens?
Article originally published by and shared with the permission of ScamSurivors