As state and local law enforcement face cutbacks, federal Internet crime watchdogs have seen a spike in reports of online fraud, reports Seattle Post-Intelligencer.com. Citing a study issued yesterday, officials said the 33 percent increase during 2008 in the number of complaints filed with a federal Internet crime clearinghouse is being driven in part by trouble in the economy.
Washington state has been hit especially hard, said the Internet Crime Complaint Center report, ranking sixth in the nation in the number of Internet frauds reported. The state also appears to be home to an exceptionally high proportion of perpetrators; in per-capita terms, only Nevada and the District of Columbia rank higher. While increased unemployment and financial difficulty have made Americans more susceptible to scams, the same unsteady job market may also push others toward crime, said John Kane of the Internet Crime Complaint Center, a cybercrime clearinghouse funded in part by the FBI. “We’re receiving more complaints, we believe, because of what we’re seeing in the economy right now,” Kane said. “You have a large population of potential victims  who might not otherwise fall for these scams at a time when they’re personal financial situation was a little bit better.”