Complaints on Internet crimes, including email fraud, can be filed with the Internet Crime Complaint Center
(IC3). The IC3 was established as a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation
(FBI) and the National White Collar Crime Center
(NW3C) to receive and develop Internet related crime complaints from the public. After receiving a complaint, the IC3 researches and develops the case, then refers the investigation to local, state, federal, and international law enforcement or other regulatory agencies with jurisdiction.
The IC3 serves to aid law enforcement agencies in investigation and prevention of Internet crimes, and to identify current crime trends over the Internet. IC3 provides information to the public and law enforcement, and partners with government and private entities (such as the Federal Trade Commission and eBay/PayPal) to combat Internet fraud.
What constitutes an Internet crime?
Internet crime is defined as “any illegal activity involving one or more components of the Internet, such as websites, chat rooms, and/or email”. This high-tech crime involves the use of the Internet to communicate false or fraudulent representations to consumers. Internet crimes may include, but are not limited to, advance-fee schemes, non-delivery of goods or services, computer hacking, or employment/business opportunity schemes. Get more information on Internet crime schemes.
Examples of complaints filed include:
♦ A person has been defrauded of money and/or goods
♦ A person has received an email asking for bank account information in order for money to be transferred into the account from another country
♦ A person has received an offer from another country to purchase an item the person listed on the Internet with payment being made in the form of a cashier’s check in excess of the asking price
♦ A person received an email purported to be from a financial institution asking the person to verify personal or account information
If you have been threatened or feel you are in danger, call your local and/or state law enforcement agency immediately!
How is a complaint filed?
The IC3 accepts online complaints
filed by the person who believes they were defrauded or filed by a third party on behalf of that person.
What information should be included?
Providing accurate, thorough information increases the success of the investigation. Information may include (if available):
♦ Complainant’s name
♦ Complainant’s mailing address
♦ Complainant’s telephone number(s)
♦ Name, address, and telephone number of the individual or business that committed the fraud/crime
♦ Website and email address of the individual or business that perpetrated the fraud/crime
♦ Specific details on how the fraud/crime was carried out
♦ Any other supporting information available
What types of documents would be considered evidence in a complaint?
It is important to keep any evidence that may be related to the complaint. Evidence may include, but is not limited to, the following:
♦ Canceled checks
♦ Certified or other mail receipts
♦ Chatroom or newsgroup text
♦ Credit card receipts
♦ Envelopes (if items were received via FedEx, UPS, or U.S. Mail)
♦ Facsimiles (faxes)
♦ Money order receipts
♦ Pamphlets or brochures
♦ Phone bills
♦ Printed or preferably electronic copies of emails (if printed, include full email header information)
♦ Printed or preferably electronic copies of web pages
♦ Wire transfer receipts
Keep the items in a safe location, as they may be needed for the investigation or prosecution.
How are complaints resolved?
The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3
) thoroughly reviews and evaluates each complaint so that it can refer the complaint to the appropriate law enforcement or regulatory agency or agencies.
After referral, the complaint may then be assigned to an investigator. It is important to provide a telephone number so that an investigator may contact the complainant for additional information. IC3 cannot guarantee that a complaint will be investigated.
What happens after a complaint is filed?
After a complaint is filed with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), the complainant will receive an email containing a complaint id and password. This email will contain a link to an area on the IC3 site where the complainant can view and download the complaint and also provide additional information to be added to the complaint.
As Internet crime complaints are reported online, the IC3 electronically compiles the data. Trained analysts review and research each complaint, distributing information to the appropriate law enforcement or regulatory agencies for criminal, civil, or administrative action, as appropriate.
Will the complainant be updated on the status of the investigation?
The IC3 does not conduct investigations and, therefore, is not able to provide the investigative status of a previously filed complaint. It is the IC3's intention to review every complaint and refer them to law enforcement and regulatory agencies having jurisdiction; however, investigation and prosecution is at the discretion of the receiving agencies.
For additional information regarding the IC3 or Internet crime, please visit:
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