The 10 Worst States for Cybercrime

Every year, the FBI and its partners in the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) publish a report detailing the number and type of complaints the center receives. These states reported the highest numbers of cyber crimes.

Every year, the FBI and its partners in the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) publish a report detailing the number and type of complaints the center receives. The list includes everything from non-delivered merchandise to bank account-clearing fraud. The IC3 documents, analyzes, and publishes a wide array of cybercrime data in order to help people understand the underside of the internet.

The most recent report was based on complaints in the year 2013. That year, there were 262,813 consumer complaints to IC3. More than 45% of these complaints involve financial loss, adding up to $781,841,611. That’s 48.8% higher than the amount of loss reported in 2012, $581,441,110. Ten percent of the complaints did not include a location, therefore the below information is based on the other 90%. What follows is a list of the 10 states with the most complaints documented by IC3 originating in 2013. In addition to the data, we’ve included notable facts or cases from the state.

2.58% of all complaints

Average loss: $3,039

Georgia’s attorney general has a list of tips for kids and parents for internet safety, but most of the victims of cybercrime in the US are over the age of 20. The state’s average loss per complaint is seventh-highest in the nation, too.

2.75% of all complaints

Average loss: $1,888

More than 1,300 Ohioans registered internet scams with IC3 in 2013. This may be due to the fact that Ohio has a very user-friendly scam reporting tool on the attorney general’s website. Interestingly, more than 2,000 complaints registered in 2013 were about businesses or people operating in Ohio.

2.84% of all complaints

Average loss: $3,004

The good news for Virginia is that less than 2% of all complaints from the state involved a financial loss. The bad news is that those complaints that did involve a loss averaged out to more than $3,000 each, landing the state at number 9 overall in highest average loss.

2.95% of all complaints

Average loss: $2,265

From the IC3 report: “The IC3 has been working with US Secret Service in Springfield, Ill, since March 2008 regarding a subject in a wire fraud investigation. The subject, Chris Sours, advertised Internet-based businesses for sale, collected large sums of money but did not provide legitimate websites to his customers. According to the USSS, victims have sent amounts ranging from $2,000 to $45,000. The IC3 found related complaints from October 2005 to February 2012. Total dollar loss from these complaints was $257,966. On November 13, 2012, Chris Sours was arrested, pled guilty, and was indicted. On April 13, 2013, Chris Sours was sentenced to 60 months incarceration and ordered to pay $343,233 in restitution in the Central District of Illinois.”

3.21% of all complaints

Average loss: $1,753

The Garden State is a fertile field for cybercrime, but residents who report a complaint have the lowest average loss among states on this list. New Jersey is 40th among all states and Washington DC for the amount of money lost on average to internet scams. About 2.5% of all people who filed a complaint from New Jersey reported a financial loss.

3.32% of all complaints

Average loss: $1,819

Pennsylvania was where a large counterfeit check scheme targeting law firms was successfully prosecuted. Firms were contacted for assistance in debt collection, and instructed to wire collected monies, minus fees, to accounts around the world. But all of the checks collected from supposed debtors were returned as counterfeit, resulting in hundreds of complaints to IC3 since 2008. IC3 supported a multi-agency investigation, and filed charges in 2010 against Emmanuel Ekhator, from Nigeria. He was extradited to the U.S. in 2011, and sentenced in 2013 to 100 months in federal prison, three years of supervised release, and to pay more than $11 million in restitution. Ekhator’s scheme deceived U.S. law firms out of more than $70 million.

5.29% of all complaints

Average loss: $3,015

The New York Attorney General’s office has established an Internet Bureau to deal with a number of crimes committed on or related to the World Wide Web. Despite a number of initiatives by the bureau to get in front of the issues, New York still supplies more than 5% of the nation’s cybercrime complaints, and has one of the highest average losses in the nation.

6.74% of all complaints

Average loss: $3,521

Texas has a hotline set up for people whose loved ones cannot be convinced to stop sending money to scammers, which indicates the size of the problem in the Lonestar State. The state attorney general’s website also says, “You may also wish to approach your family member's bank, where staff may be willing to alert you of withdrawals. In addition, law enforcement officers may be willing to visit the victim; the uniform can be persuasive. A law-abiding victim can sometimes be swayed by the knowledge that it is illegal to receive the proceeds of a foreign lottery.” The site adds, “Intelligent, educated people can be fooled.”

7.45% of all complaints

Average loss: $2,750

From the IC3 report: “The IC3 provided complaints to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office in December 2009. The monetary losses totaled $15,114. In January 2010, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office advised the IC3 that its agency initiated an investigation against Jack Loftin. The complainants advised they purchased concert tickets from the subject, but never received them or a refund of their monies. Most of the victims established initial contact with the subject through an eBay auction website. Many of the victims utilized PayPal as the medium for payment. An affidavit released by the Office of the State Attorney, 10th Judicial Circuit stated the subject tricked people into thinking he had VIP tickets for performers like Jimmy Buffet, Miley Cyrus or Aerosmith. The subject was charged with pocketing $92,000 from victims across the country and not providing tickets or refunds. Loftin pleaded guilty to 24 counts of grand theft in November 2012 and was sentenced to 16 months imprisonment and ordered to pay $87,000 in restitution on Jan. 18, 2013. He was also sentenced to 13 years probation during which time all restitution to victims must be paid.”

12.13% of all complaints

Average loss: $3,639

California has the largest population of elderly people, which is also the population most at risk for being duped by an online scammer. More than 95,000 complaints were made by people in the US over the age of 50, resulting in more than $337 million of loss. In addition to having the most complaints filed from residents of the state, California also led the way in complaints against people and businesses from the state, with more than 12,000 complaints registered in 2013. That’s 15% of all complaints registered.

To read the full report, click here.