The Checkout

Testosterone and Internet Fraud

Are men bigger victims of Internet fraud than women or are they just more likely to report it?

Those are certainly two questions that come to mind after reading a just-released government report on Internet crime. In its latest assessment of Internet crime, the federal Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) says men filed 64 percent of the 231,493 complaints submitted to government officials in 2005. What's more, on an average per-person basis, men lost $1.86 for every dollar lost by women.

IC3's report on 2005 complaint data paints a disturbing picture of Internet fraud with complaints increasing by 11.6 percent over 2004. Even more worrisome, though, is the steep rise in dollar losses: a total of $183.12 million in 2005, up from $68.4 million in 2004. The report doesn't explain the reason for the sharp jump--and IC3 officials couldn't explain it either--but 2004 might have been an anomaly since losses in 2003 were $125.6 million. That helps make 2005 figures seem only slightly less drastic, especially when you consider they are probably only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. The report notes that research indicates only one in seven incidents of fraud ever makes its way to the attention of enforcement or regulatory agencies.

Auction fraud remained the most reported offense, accounting for nearly 63 percent of complaints. That's a drop from 2004, when it accounted for 71 percent. Complaints about check fraud and investment fraud were still small, but considerably more than 2004. E-mail was the two primary culprits through which fraud took place.

Other interesting nuggets in the report:

* Washington, D.C., Alaska and Colorado had the highest per capita rate of complainants.

* Three-fourths of the reported "perpetrators" were male and half lived in California, New York, Florida, Texas, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Ohio. A significant number also were from Nigeria, the United Kingdom, Canada, Italy and China.

To read more as well as to find tips on how to avoid Internet crime, download the report in pdf form.

By  |  April 10, 2006; 10:25 AM ET Consumer News
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I don't know if this still true, but I know that for a long time men were more likely to be big Internet users than women. If that's still the case, it would make sense that men would file more complaints simply because they do more transacting.

Of course, that wouldn't explain why men got ripped off for larger amounts, and, being a man, I'd rather not speculate on that.

Posted by: Justin | April 10, 2006 11:10 AM

"In its latest assessment of Internet crime, the federal Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) says men filed 64 percent of the 231,493 complaints submitted to government officials in 2005"

Justin touches on this but didn't explicitly state it - so I will. Making the inference that men have more fraud against them from this information alone is just plain wrong.

We need more information. Let's assume 90% of internet surfers are men. In that case, if 64% of the reported cases are from men either men don't report or men get defrauded less often. If we assume 40% of the surfers are men, it is reasonable to assume men get defrauded more often.

As for the dollar amounts, it is possible that men only report larger frauds while women report every fraud.

Posted by: Bob | April 10, 2006 2:43 PM

Half of the perpertrators were in Ca, NY, TX ..." This shouldnt be too surprising as the 7 most populous states make up close to half of the population. I read a story once that was surprised half the mustang car sales were in....

Posted by: dave | April 10, 2006 7:29 PM

Remember the book "Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics?" We don't have enough information to evaluate the accuracy or meaning of the statistics that were touted by the news writer. Principally, we don't have any information about non-reported fraud. It could be that women are subjected to more frauded and for larger amounts, but then just don't pursue it for whatever reasons.


Posted by: dw | April 11, 2006 4:50 PM

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