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As more people use the Internet and more financial information is stored online, the threat of cyber crime is growing at an alarming rate. Criminals acting alone or in small groups can crash systems, disrupt networks, or steal databases of sensitive information. Individuals can suffer losses in the thousands of dollars, and companies can lose millions.
Since 2000, the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) has responded to victims of cyber crimes. In its fi rst year, the IC3 received a total of 16,838 complaints. The number exploded to 275,284 in 2008. That year, the majority of complaints (32.9%) were related to non delivered merchandise or non-payment of money due. Following were auction fraud (25.5%) and credit/debit card fraud (9.0%).
Cyber criminals use techniques such as hacking into company networks and attacking computers via e-mail worms. In a spectacular case in 2009, a hacker was charged with infi ltrating networks and stealing more than 130 million credit and debit card numbers. That followed a previous charge of stealing more than 40 million credit card numbers.
Complicating the prosecution of such cases is the fact that a cyber criminal may be located anywhere. Therefore, the FBI has set up Cyber Action Teams (CATs), which can respond to any attack within hours. In 2006, after the “Zotob” worm (designed to steal credit card numbers) was released by hackers in Turkey and Morocco, the FBI acted quickly. Within 72 hours, CATs were on their way to both countries. Their cooperation with local officials led to the rapid arrest of two suspects.