How to avoid and report Internet fraud


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(This article was written back in 2005 by myself and since then, many new changes in Cyber Law and its enforcement have been introduced. Those new changes are not incorporated in this guide yet. But it is still a great starter guide for any (potential) victim of online internet fraud.)

This is meant for all those who are either victims already or potential ones who are fearful of such internet frauds online. Here, I try my best to help you via suggesting ways to report such internet fraud legally and avoiding them in future. “Internet fraud” means many types of fraud plans or schemes that employ internet technologies like e-mail, forums, websites, chat to solicit fraudulent transactions of money. Although you may never see your money again, you can hopefully take some joy in seeing justice done. It is only by the cumulative response of angry victims that authorities will have the impetus to devote resources, such as forensic accountants to trace the money, and other costly manpower, to a particular operation. As well, if restitution is available, having your name recorded increases the chance of seeing some monetary recovery down the road.

Internet used to be a safe and simple place to communicate via e-mail and post information about yourself or your business view-able by the whole world via web. Not any more. Using internet is becoming more and more unsafe and unreliable due to mis-representation, fraud and lies posted by individuals and organizations with criminal intentions to harm innocent internet users via web, e-mail or any other internet medium.

Many websites have sprung up as trying to subside these internet fraud and crimes, but unfortunately in absence of clear legislation by the respective country governments and/or implementation of such legislation in their own territories is making internet increasingly a dangerous place to conduct business. All we hear is a promised e-commerce boom which never fulfilled by those pundits or their back-end providers. Simply search “internet fraud” in any internet search engine and you will find many victims of such internet frauds telling their stories of fraud and yet you see the same “alleged” websites conducting business as usual on internet without being properly prosecuted or inquired into by the proper government authorities.

The purpose of this informative column is to make you aware of the kind of dangers that using internet pose to you, your repute, profession, family or money. Some of the dangers are as under;

  1. Anybody can be slandered, insulted or misrepresented by the internet or websites like web based forums or groups without any “proof” and or spreading bad information about the innocent person or organization.
  2. If you enter into a web-based transaction such as many websites enabling e-commerce on their websites, chances are that your credit cards information is misused, causing you financial loss. Many even ask you to give them your social security ID or citizen identification which is wrongly used by the criminal-oriented websites, their owners or their readers.
  3. Many of us are all being forced by so-called technology companies into making all of your business transactions online via web. That poses a great threat of exposing our critical business information to “teenager” hackers who misuse it or sell it to others for money without your knowledge. All these technology companies try their best to fool many of the innocent businessmen or professionals to believe e-commerce is safe, which is untrue and still proved otherwise.
  4. Many professionals and organizations fall into trap of internet jobs or projects portals and signup by either paying hefty amounts or pay upto 40% of their hard-earned income to these intermediary websites. Whenever they have any issue with any fraudulent buyers on these websites, the arbitrary favoritism of these portals to their buyer subscribers disappoint and such innocent professional providers and they not only lose money but global reputation as well.
  5. Mis-representation of age or financial background of an individual towards opposite sex for entering into internet based marriages which turn out to be nothing but a waste of lot of time in terms of chatting online and sometimes emotional black-mail of such criminal minded persons via internet.
  6. Stealing of your website domain name or your e-mail identity and mis-represent you or your organization globally over internet.
  7. Fraudulent schemes appearing on online auction sites are the most frequently reported form of Internet fraud. People either offer to sell or offer to buy products and/or services on such auction sites and induce their victims to either send money or deliver products and services without any payment what was promised (e.g., counterfeit or altered goods).
  8. Fraudulent schemes sounding like “Business Opportunity” or “Work-at-Home” advertise and induce their victims online via promise to earn thousands of dollars monthly or even weekly to get work done without any payment being made to the victim service provider or employee.
  9. Market manipulation schemes where criminals use many methods to manipulate securities markets for their personal profit. Usually called “pump-and-dump” schemes, they spread false information in a hope to cause dramatic price increases in thinly traded stocks (the “pump”), and instantly sell off their stocks (the “dump”) to realize substantial profits before the stock price falls back to its usual low level. All other buyers of the stock who are unaware of the false information become victims of the scheme once the price falls. Similarly, in short-selling or “scalping” schemes, the scheme takes a similar approach, by disseminating false or fraudulent information in an effort to cause price decreases in a particular company’s stock. The criminals usually combine uses of the Internet with traditional telemarketing to reach large numbers of potential victims.
  10. And then there are the usual Credit-Card schemes whereby it involves the use of unlawfully obtained credit card numbers to order goods or services online. It involves offering consumers high-value consumer items, such as video cameras, at a very attractive price (i.e., below the price set at legitimate e-commerce Web sites). When a potential consumer contacts the “seller,” the “seller” promises to ship the consumer the item before the consumer has to pay anything. If the consumer agrees, the “seller” (without the consumer’s knowledge) uses that consumer’s real name, along with an unlawfully obtained credit card number belonging to another person, to buy the item at a legitimate Web site. Once that Web site ships the item to the consumer, the consumer, believing that the transaction is legitimate, then authorizes his credit card to be billed in favor of the “seller” or sends payment directly to the “seller.” As a result, there are two victims of the scheme: the original e-commerce merchant who shipped the item based on the unlawfully used credit card; and the consumer who sent his money after receiving the item that the “seller” fraudulently ordered from the merchant. In the meantime, the “seller” may have transferred his fraudulent proceeds to bank accounts beyond the effective reach of either the merchant or the consumer.

There are many initiatives towards making web and internet safe, but unfortunately all have miserably failed and none of those initiatives seem to work in real-life protecting legal rights of global buyers, sellers, individuals, and/or organizations online via internet. You can report the cyber crime to the following links;

In addition to above, please ensure that you report your case to organizations like your local police, the state or provincial police, the RCMP, the FBI, the Secret Service, the post office, the phone company, the local paper and television station, the BBB, your credit card company, your bank, your Attorney General, the local and state/provincial/federal Department of Consumer Affairs, the SEC, or any and all other relevant securities administrators and regulatory agencies for each state and province, and country.

Here’s a sample of crime report that you can prepare before approaching any law-enforcement authority;


Complaint Information
Crime Type On-Line Fraud
Crime Sub-Type Non-Payment for Goods/Services
Delivered
Complaint Filing Date 2000-01-01
Crime Start Date 2000-01-01
Crime End Date 2000-01-01
Level of Public
Interest
International
Total Amount Lost 1,000.00 US$
Estimated Proceeds 1,000.00 US$
Value of Offence 1,000.00 US$
Organized Crime Yes
Personal
Information Lost
Evidence Documents in victim’s possession, 
Evidence
Description
All of the record is with me and
online at
http://www.website.com
Crime
Description
Hi,My
name is ABC and I operating as “abc” on a website
www.abcwebsite.com . I was
struck with a bad surprise by a non-professional buyer, unfair treatment
by the owner of website where I suffered these losses;
1. they confiscated my rightful money and
cancelled the project. The buyer name is Mr.ABC and his contact
information is abc@abc.com. He was
operating as “xyz” on the same website
www.abcwebsite.com . This buyer
had a favorable record by the owner of the website. Which ultimately
helps them to deceive and rip off many coders of their rightful money
like myself and run away with services delivers, without payments made
to myself.
2. they tried to defend the seller on the same
website via different excuses and made-up policies which were not
relayed or informed before the transaction happened.

3. they rated my profile as BAD on their website
in that specific project and;

4. they deducted money from my own account as a
penalty

5. they issued me warnings to withhold my own
money left in my account as well.

When I brought all of this into the notice of the
owner of the website
www.abcwebsite.com
, Mr.XYZABC, he flatly refused to help me in this
regard. Before signing up, I was deceived into believing them due to
their display of memberships by www.BBB.org
and www.SquareTrade.com .
Now, I have started the complaint process not only at these websites but
with all legal authorities of their territories and warning general
public against using such a deceptive website like
www.abcwebsite.com
or
working in any way with Mr.ABC and Mr.XYZ.

I am based in UK and I was ripped off my rightful
money by these persons and website via internet who are located in USA.

I will keep you all posted about the developments
taking place to prosecute such internet fraud. I have met a few of the
similar victims from the same website who feel the same way and I plan
to gather all such evidence and legally fighting such fraudulent
websites or persons. I have all the emails and project data online at
http://www.abcxyz.com and
attached herewith for your detailed review.

Signed

John Doe

Suite 2, Street 10, Birmingham, 78K33, UK

Phone: +44-1122-334-400

E-Mail: john@abc.com

Website:
www.johndoexyzabc.com

Crime Location
Address 43 North Hemingway
Suite 500
PO Box
City San Jose
Province/State California
Country USA
Postal/Zip Code 12345
Website
http://www.abcwebsite.com
Filer Information
Filer ID 1098989
Filer Type Individual
First Name John
Last Name Doe
Date of Birth 01-01-2000
Gender M
Preferred Language English
Contact Option Feel free to contact me
Address Suite 2, New Heights
Street 10
PO Box
City Birmingham
Province/State
Country UK
Postal/Zip Code 78K33
Phone Number 1: +44-1122-334-400
Email
john@abc.com

Victim Information
Victim ID 1098989-1098989-8
First Name John
Last Name Doe
Date of Birth 01-01-2000
Gender M
Preferred Language English
Address Suite 2, New Heights
Street 10
PO Box
City Birmingham
Province/State
Country UK
Postal/Zip Code 78K33
Phone Number 1: +44-1122-334-400
Email
john@abc.com

Suspect Information

Organization Information
Organization ID 1009899
Organization Name ABC XYZ, Inc.
Address 43 North Hemingway
Suite 500
PO Box
City San Jose
Province/State California
Country United States
Postal/Zip Code 12345
Website
Phone Number1: +1-800-000-1234
Phone Number2: +1-123-456-7890

Suspect ID 5686543
First Name ABC
Last Name XYZ
Gender M
Address 43 North Hemingway
Suite 500
PO Box
City San Jose
Province/State California
Country United States
Postal/Zip Code 12345
Suspect
Description
No idea as i know him via internet
alone.
Phone Number 1: +1-800-000-1234
Email
abc@abc.com

Non-Payment of Goods Delivered Details

Product Name: Business Feasibility Report
Product Quantity 1
Product Total Price 1,000.00 USD
Recipient Suspect Mr.XYZ
Payment Receipt Number Not Applicable
Method of Delivery Via his website and emails address

From my own experience, I know even the “smartest” consumer can be “conned” by the criminal websites and individuals into thinking about them as legally trustworthy to part with their hard-earned money or products and/or services. This is being done on a colossal scale in the whole world with the increased popularity of internet usage. Not only governments, but NGOs, United Nations, Companies or Individuals like yourself are all equally responsible to ensure safety of internet which is an ever-increasingly becoming a fraudulent place for deceiving law-abiding citizens of the whole world. We must all join hands to combat this mass-deception by a few criminals using internet as a tool.

Hoping for a better and safe future of internet usage.

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