What is the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)?

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The Internet Crime Complaint Center (also known as IC3) is an agency in the United States that deals specifically in Internet-related crimes. If you are not familiar with this agency, here is a bit about its history, what it does and how to file a complaint.

What is the Internet Crime Complaint Center? 

The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) was originally called the Internet Fraud Complaint Center (IFCC) when it was established on May 8, 2000. In December 2003 the agency was renamed to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) to better adequately encompass the criminal matters occurring in cyberspace.

The revamp of the agency was established as a partnership between the FBI, Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) and the National White Collar Crime Center as a means to serve the law enforcement community according to the IC3 website. The center receives complaints related to cyber crime and researches, reviews and sends referrals to the appropriate agencies to handle the situation; this could be on the international, federal, state or local level.

IC3’s Mission

IC3’s mission statement describes the agency’s role as:

“To serve as a vehicle to receive, develop and refer criminal complaints regarding the rapidly expanding arena of cyber crime. The IC3 gives the victims of cyber crime a convenient and easy-to-use reporting mechanism that alerts authorities of suspected criminal or civil violations. For law enforcement and regulatory agencies at the federal, state, local and international level, the IC3 provides a central referral mechanism for complaints involving Internet related crimes.”

Additionally, the mission statement describes the agency’s partnership with law enforcement and regulatory agencies and IC3’s commitment to these partnerships in order to combat cyber crime.

Logging Complaints

The IC3 takes complaints through an online form located on the organization’s website. Complainants are asked to provide information related to the fraud or crime committed and to also give personal information so the situation can be referred to the proper agency and investigated; this way the investigating party can contact the complainant if needed. At least one of the parties (either the complainant or the party believed to have committed the crime) must be located within the United States.

Complaint Reviews and Referrals

With every complaint that is received, IC3 not only reviews and refers each individual complaint of a crime to an investigator, but also compiles the data and then generates an annual Internet Crime Report which reports on and outlines the types of crimes committed and the percentages related to individual crimes.

Compiles Statistics

In 2010 the agency reported it had received its second-highest number of complaints since the organization had been established; IC3 also received its two-millionth complaint. The 2010 Internet Crime Report stated, at that time, the agency received, on average, 25,000 complaints a month.

Over the past few years, the top Internet-related criminal activities reported include non-delivery of payment/merchandise, FBI-related scams and identity theft. Other types of crimes the agency evaluates include computer crimes, miscellaneous fraud, advance fee fraud, spam, auction fraud, credit card fraud and overpayment fraud.

Fast-forward to 2015 and IC3 reports it received an average of 22,000 complaints a month in 2014, Top complaints included auto fraud, impersonation emails, intimidation and extortion scams, frauds involving real estate, romance scams, and business email compromise schemes. New for this year was also the way analysts looked at complaints. First,  they looked at the newest complaints and then looked back at older ones to pinpoint urgent threats and see what new trends have emerged.

In 2015, the complaints to IC3 continue to grow, while monthly averages are down from 2010, there are now three million complaints in all.

If you believe you are a victim of an Internet crime or are aware of a crime, you can file a complaint on the IC3 website and the agency will review and refer to the proper jurisdiction and agency.

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