The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) keeps a database of the various business and fraud-related complaints made by people in the U.S. to various entities. In a recent report, the FTC indicated from where those complaints came and the nature of those complaints. There were over 1.2 million complaints documented by the FTC in 2008, and 52% of them were related to fraud. Of those fraud-related complaints, identity theft was clearly the most complained of activity. Specifically, credit card theft was at the top of the list for identity theft-related activity.
Florida ranks third in the U.S. among the states in per capita rate of identity theft complaints and ninth in total overall complaints. This comes as no surprise as Florida has a high population of senior citizens who are often targets of fraud. However, it was notable that email is now by far the preferred method of initial contact for those who are attempting to defraud someone. The fraud complaints revealed that the victims were initially contacted by email 52% of the time and by phone only 7% of the time.
Those of us who have been working in criminal law since the 1990’s (or earlier), before the Internet was popular and widespread, recall boiler rooms and telemarketing schemes that were implemented to defraud the elderly and others. Now, it seems as if people have leveraged the relative ease of use and access and anonymity of email and the Internet to attempt schemes to defraud.