Risk
4/4/2008
01:47 PM
Tom LaSusa
Tom LaSusa
Commentary
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Battle Of The Sexes: Internet Fraud Edition

They say girls develop much faster than boys. At the very least, they appear to be quicker on the uptake when it comes to avoiding getting duped on the Internet.

They say girls develop much faster than boys. At the very least, they appear to be quicker on the uptake when it comes to avoiding getting duped on the Internet.A study from the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) suggests that men are far more likely to be duped by Internet fraud schemes than women. For every dollar that women lost to scammers, phishers, and other Net crooks in 2007, men lost a buck plus an extra 67 cents.

Last year, the IC3 -- a partnership among the FBI, the National White Collar Crime Center, and Bureau of Justice Assistance -- received nearly 220,000 complaints of Internet crime. Of the complainants, more than half (57.6%) were male and lived in one of the four most populated states: California, Florida, Texas, and New York.

Among the cons, investment scams seemed to be the one that men fell for most, where the average loss is more than $3,500. Pattern-wise, guys fell for the scams they believed would bring them in the biggest windfalls. Women, on the other hand, were more likely liable to fall for auction fraud -- but no more so than their male counterparts.

Men also tend to make up the higher concentration of victims of check fraud and Nigerian letter fraud scams.

Overall, the IC3's report is depressing (you can download the full report here). If you were hoping to hear that Internet fraud was on the decline, check back next year. Not only did it rise in 2007, but the nearly $240 million in reported losses is a $40 million increase from that stolen in 2006.

The only number that is dropping is the number of Internet scam complaints the IC3 receives. One of the reasons cited is that some people may simply not be aware their information has been stolen. Many people who steal credit card numbers are unwilling to go to jail for small change ($20 here, $40 there), so they check the card's balance. If the balance is low, they don't bother. If there's a nice hefty credit limit, however, then they go to town.

Unfortunately -- and incredibly (in my opinion) -- lack of consumer awareness still plays a major part in why folks are duped.

It's hard to believe that after all these years, people could still believe an e-mail offering "a thousand blessings" -- and a tidy sum of cash -- if only they will help some poor rich family hide their millions in an American bank account!

Or what about an investment scam? Who gets a random e-mail from a stranger with a "sweet tip" on some mysterious stock -- and then dumps their money into it? Apparently New Yorkers, Texans, Floridians, and Californians. Go figure.

Me? I barely trust financial tips from people I know. Do you agree/disagree with the study's findings? Sound off below!

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