Arizona ranked fifth in the largest sum of money lost in Internet scams last year, according to a federal agency’s annual report.
The federal Internet Crime Complaint Center, which produced the report, is a government agency that partners with the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center to receive Internet-related criminal complaints and to aid in investigating these crimes.
Arizonans lost an estimated $25 million in 2014 in various Internet-related scams, with women ages 40 to 49 targeted the most, according to the report. The women in that age group lost approximately $7.6 million. The majority of Arizona complaints to the agency came from men and women over the age of 60.
Even though Arizona ranked fifth in largest sum of money lost, it ranked 11th in the number of complaints the agency received. California made up the bulk of the complaints filed, with over 12 percent coming from the Golden State.
Californians lost an estimated $131 million, with men ages 40 to 49 being affected the most. Florida came in second, with its residents losing an estimated $52.5 million and males ages 50 to 59 losing the most. Texas came in third and New York fourth, with the two states losing $97 million between them.
The total estimated losses reported by the ICCC was over $800 million, with the typical complainant losing on average $6,472.
There was a rise in complaints involving business e-mails compared with 2013, leading to an estimated $226 million loss for the affected businesses.
Other notable scams are online auto fraud scams, where a person claiming to be selling a car persuades the victim to send money prior to seeing the car, and real-estate scams, which together equal an estimated loss of $58.6 million.
Twelve percent of all complaints the ICCC received had a social media aspect to them, leading the agency to warn consumers of popular tactics used by online scam artists such as “click-jacking.”
Click-jacking occurs when a malicious link or software is hidden within legitimate links. The most popular links targeted, according to ICCC, are Facebook “like” and “share” buttons.
Overall, the number of complaints received by the agency has seen a 2.5 percent increase since 2013 but a 14 percent decrease since 2011.
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