By Paul Tooher
What Chicago was to organized crime in the 1920s, Santa Clara, Calif., has become to cybercrime in the 21st century, according to ThreatMetrix, a firm that tracks and offers protective services against crime on the Internet.
According to ThreatMetrix, the California city located in the Bay area is the top originating site for online fraud, just as Chicago, the home of Al Capone, was seen as the center of mob activities in America during the roaring ‘20s.
Meanwhile, San Jose, Calif., in the heart of Silicon Valley, ranked second as the major source of Internet fraud.
ThreatMetrix stated it tracked 1,900 customers, 9,000 websites and 500 million monthly transactions to compile its report.
Given the concentration of technical talent located in the area, it comes as no surprise that the Bay Area is also an epicenter for online criminal enterprises.
Other cities ranked among the top 10 include Chesterfield, Mo.; New York City; Atlanta; Fremont, Calif.; Tempe, Ariz.; Dallas; Rochester, with the least expensive real estate of any major city in New York; and Miami.
According to a recent article in The Guardian, online fraud may be costing the global economy more than double the initial estimates of $100 billion a year.
That includes amounts stolen from banks, financial institutions, companies and individuals.
According to the FBI’s most recent Internet Crime Center Report, that agency in 2012 received 289,874 consumer complaints with an adjusted dollar loss of $525.4 million, an 8.3 percent increase in reported losses since 2011.
The 10 states with the highest number of complaints were California, Florida, Texas, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Virginia, Ohio and Washington.
The fewest number of complaints were filed by residents of South Dakota, North Dakota, Wyoming, Vermont and Delaware.
According to the report, the most common scams involved auto sales, emails impersonating FBI officials, intimidation and extortion, real estate fraud and romance scams.
The FBI offers numerous suggestions on how to avoid becoming a victim of various Internet fraud schemes.
By Paul Tooher