The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received over 200,000 complaints from consumers about internet fraud last year.
For the fifth year in a row, identity theft, both online and offline, topped the list of complaints with 246,570 reports, accounting for 39 per cent of the 635,173 complaints filed with the agency last year.
The FTC said that internet-related complaints accounted for 53 per cent of all reported fraud complaints. Internet auctions made up 16 per cent of complaints, followed by 'shop-at-home' and catalogue sales (eight per cent), and internet services and computer complaints (six per cent).
Losses due to internet fraud stood at $265m in 2004, with the average loss calculated at $214.
In more than half of fraud complaints, victims were initially contacted electronically. Email was the first point of contact in 35 per cent of cases.
While a quarter of those complaining said they had lost no money, 14 per cent lost between $101 and $250 through internet fraud, and 12 per cent admitted losing between $1,000 and $5,000. An even more unlucky three per cent said they lost more than $5,000.
FTC chairman Deborah Platt Majoras said: "These are real people who have lost real money and the FTC offers them a direct link to finding a solution.
"By filing complaints, consumers are one click away from thousands of law enforcement partners who can help restore their good name, protect their financial security, and give the FTC the information we need to stop fraud in its tracks."
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