Canada beats UK, measures US in Internet fraud tracking

Canada leads the U.K. and other countries in its efforts totrack and investigate Internet fraud, according to a new reportfrom the Britain’s Attorney General’s office.

The Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, criticized the U.K.authorities for failing to come up with a centralized way forconsumers to report Internet fraud, as has been done in countriessuch as the US and Canada. The result is that Internetfraud — which accounts for 8 per cent of all fraud in the U.K. –is growing unchecked, the report said.

“It is often confusing for victims to know who to report thefraud to, particularly if it crosses geographical or sectoralboundaries,” Goldsmith said in the report. “Fraudsters benefit fromthis lack of continuity of response. Internet fraud is aparticularly good example of how a fraud can become difficult toreport.”

He used the example of a fraudster, Mr Bogus, who defrauds auser by advertising products on an Internet auction site,illustrating how such crimes are often not taken seriously.

“Mr. Bogus remains free to re-advertise the computer andperforms the same fraud on n increasing number of victims. Thepolice and trading standards do not identify Mr. Bogus as a repeatoffender because the reports of fraud are either not accepted, orappear in different force areas,” Goldsmith wrote in thereport.

He said such crimes have an effect far larger than they appearbecause of “externalities” such as the chilling effect one-commerce in general. As an example, the 2002/03 British CrimeSurvey found that 75 per cent of respondents were worried about thesecurity of using a credit card online, Goldsmith said.

He urged the creation of an Internet fraud reporting scheme on anational or E.U. level, along the lines of the U.S.’Internet Crime Complaints Centre (IC3) or Canada’s Reporting Economic Crime Online (RECOL)centre.

“While no such center exists in the U.K. to tackle fraud, anational reporting center has recently been launched to tacklepedophilia and protect children,” Goldsmith wrote. “This modelshows that it is possible to establish such operations in the U.K.and it is feasible to do so.”

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