Internet fraud. The idea can conjure up images of computer hackers stealing debit- and credit-card numbers from the Web, and then going on huge spending binges.
While that may happen, it doesn't occur as much as you might think. In fact, auction fraud is the most reported type of Internet rip-off, according to the Internet Fraud Complaint Center (IFCC).
A report released last week by the Washington-based watchdog group says nearly two-thirds of the 6.087 complaints it referred to law-enforcement and regulatory agencies last year involved Internet auctions. Nondelivery of goods ordered on the Web accounted for more than one-fifth of referred complaints. And only 5 percent were related to credit- and debit-card fraud.
Some of the report's other findings:
* Two-thirds of the IFCC fraud cases involved dollar amounts of $500 or less.
* 7 of 10 complaints were made by men.
* 8 of 10 Internet-fraud perpetrators were men.
* More than half of all complaints were made by people in their 30s and 40s.
* E-mail (52.9 percent) and web pages (38.1 percent) were the primary mechanisms by which alleged fraudulent actions took place.
(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor