How to avoid internet fraud

National

MARYLAND (WDVM) — In 2019, more than three billion dollars was lost from victims of internet crimes.

“As time goes on, this type of crime has increased,” explained prosecutor and chief of economic crimes for the Frederick County State’s Attorney’s Office, Jason Shoemaker. 

According to the FBI’s 2019 Crime Report, the bureau’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) received 467,361 complaints. Maryland accounted for between 10,000 and 19,999 complaints. 

The top kinds of cyber crimes include phishing and similar ploys, non-payment/non-delivery scams, and extortion. 

“People are constantly trying to obtain information to get into your accounts to steal. Fake emails, top one, that’s how people are able to access probably more than phone numbers,” Shoemaker explained.

In 2019, the FBI says online crime lead to $3.5 billion dollars in losses for businesses and individuals. 

On Monday, Shoemaker hosted an online Zoom meeting for about 30 participants on how to avoid becoming a victim internet schemes.

When online be skeptical of links that pop up in your email or phone text messages, Shoemaker advises.

“I would not click a link when someone sends you an email until you’ve confirmed with the person who sent it and that it’s a legitimate link,” Shoemaker said. 

And when it comes to online shopping or browsing, check out the website address before entering your credit card information. 

“There’s a symbol that says “HTTPS” at the beginning [of a website address], the “S” means it’s a secure website,” Shoemaker explained,  “It means that access should be encoding your information so it can’t be stolen.”

According to the FBI, the most costly complaints included business email compromise, romance or confidence fraud, and spoofing, or mimicking the account of a person or vendor known to the victim to gather personal or financial information.

To best protect your interests on the internet, the FBI warns user to be cautious online, to protect you passwords, and if an offer sounds too good to be true it probably is.

If you do fall victim, the FBI asks that you report that information at https://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx

“If you think somehow you are at personal risk, I want to encourage you to contact your local police agency and make a report of it as well,” Shoemaker said. 

In 2019, the Frederick Police Department recorded 40 reports for fraud that occurred on the internet, by phone and through emails according to department analyst Caitlyn English. 

Shoemaker estimates that 25 percent of the economic crimes unit’s current caseload involves theft and fraud-related cases. 

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