A recent report from the National White Collar Crime Center detailed some interesting new information about internet crime around the country and in this state. Missouri apparently ranked 20th overall in the number of internet crimes that were reported to authorities last year. Apparently Missouri residents lost about $4.5 million in internet thefts last year.
One of the most common complaints filed with the Internet Crime Complaint center was about FBI impersonators, who apparently contact Missouri residents via email and suggested that they owed money to the FBI.
There were also a number of complaints about faulty offers to work from home, as well as what is known as a "romance scam" which works through online dating sites.
It is not clear at this time whether or not these types of crimes are being committed in Missouri or even in the United States. It's possible that much of the work was done through spambots, which are automated emailing systems that work sort of like a virus on the internet. This is an area of law that is still developing, and authorities are rushing to catch up with technology that evades the law enforcement systems that are already in place. The law is still uncertain in many ways in this arena, most significantly in terms of how to translate standard search and seizure procedures into a digital context.
For fraud schemes that were conducted through spambots or computer viruses, many people may be implicated in the investigation even though they had no active part in the crime itself. These new technologies can operate on someone's personal computer without any signs of trouble for the user.
Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "Missouri, Illinois victims report $15.5 million in internet crime losses," Bill Lambrecht, May 11, 2012.