What Is the Definition of Internet Fraud?

Updated February 21, 2017

According to the Internet Crime Report prepared by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in 2007, Internet fraud resulted in the loss of "$239.09 million with a median dollar loss of £442.00 per complaint," an increase of £26.4 million from 2006. Internet fraud is a term that covers a wide variety of crimes, from Internet auctions to the infamous Nigerian scams.


Internet fraud is any type of intentional deception that uses the Internet. This includes fraud that occurs in chat rooms, message boards, web sites and through e-mail. It occurs in the form of deceitful solicitations and fraudulent transactions.


According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the most reported offence is Internet auction fraud, which consists of 35 to 45% of complaints. This usually occurs when people advertise merchandise on auction sites and then either fail to deliver or deliver an item of lesser value than was described in the auction.


The second most common type of Internet fraud in 2007 was non-deliverable merchandise and payment, which accounts for about 19 to 25% of all Internet fraud.


Confidence fraud includes scams that require the perpetrator to gain the victim's confidence, such as multi-level marketing and home improvement scams.


Other than Internet auction fraud, non-deliverable merchandise and payment, and confidence fraud, other types of Internet fraud include credit and debit card fraud, check fraud, computer fraud, identity theft and financial institutions fraud.


The most costly Internet frauds, meaning the cost per incident is the greatest, include investment fraud and check fraud. These result in median losses of between two to three thousand dollars.

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About the Author

Darcy Logan has been a full-time writer since 2004. Before writing, she worked for several years as an English and special education teacher. Logan published her first book, "The Secret of Success is Not a Secret," and several education workbooks under the name Darcy Andries. She received her Bachelor of Arts in English and Master of Arts in special education from Middle Tennessee State University.