Internet-related fraud accounted for 29% of the 686,683 complaints to the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Sentinel database in 2005, according to the agency’s annual fraud and identity theft report.
A fraud complaint is considered Internet-related if it concerns an Internet product or service, the company initially contacts the consumer via the Internet, or the consumer responds via the Internet.
Internet-related fraud resulted in $336 million in losses, with an average loss of $2,100 and a median loss of $345 last year, the FTC said. About 55% of fraud complaints in which the company’s method of initial contact was reported cited the Internet as the source, with e-mail accounting for 35% and the web, 20%. 73% of all fraud complaints reported the method of initial contact.
Identity theft represented 37% of complaints, the FTC said. Other fraud categories included Internet auctions (12%), foreign money offers (8%), shop-at-home/catalog sales (8%), prizes/sweepstakes and lotteries (7%), Internet services and computer complaints (5%), business opportunities and work-at-home plans (2%), advance-fee loans and credit protection (2%), and telephone services (2%).