Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations

Fraud on the Internet: Scams Affecting Consumers

Date: February 10, 1998
Time: 10:00am
Location: Senate Dirksen Building, SD-342

With a growing number of American households having access to the Internet through personal computers, the use of the Internet for consumer purchases, banking and other electronic commerce is increasing rapidly. Credit card fraud has been identified by law enforcement agencies as a problem with Internet commerce. In addition, financial institutions and other businesses with on line financial services have been affected by unauthorized criminal intrusions into their systems. For example, published reports indicate that “electronic bank robberies” net on average approximately $250,000 and only 2 percent of those “cybercrimes” are detected and investigated. These statistics compare to “conventional bank robberies” which net on average approximately $7,500, with 80 percent of the robbers eventually caught. The Subcommittee is examining the extent to which fraud and criminal activities are affecting commerce on the Internet. The first hearing, concentrating on traditional fraud perpetrated over the Internet, was held on February 10, 1998. At that hearing, the Subcommittee heard testimony from the National Fraud Information Center; the world’s largest Internet provider, America Online; a victim of Internet fraud; and the Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission.