North Texas is one of the hot spots in a growing trend in which Web-savvy people are finding creative new ways to rob businesses, individuals, and governments remotely, says the Dallas Morning News. The head of the Dallas FBI office says online thievery is one of his top priorities. This month, two Texas women were indicted on federal fraud charges of stealing from the Texas Workforce Commission by creating new debit cards from legitimate accounts given to people receiving unemployment benefits. In September, a man was sentenced to four years in federal prison for stealing from AT&T. He accessed its computer system to create new accounts for customers with iPhones, which he then misused.
The Internet Crime Complaint Center, known as IC3, listed Texas last week in its annual report as having the third highest number of complaints in the nation in 2012, behind California and Florida. IC3 is a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center. The center's information can lead to arrests and helps identify trends for the public, such as “scareware,” where victims get pop-up messages on their computers claiming to report infections that can only be removed by buying certain antivirus software. A related scam known as “ransomware” involves malware that freezes victims' computers and warns the user that U.S. law has been violated. It then describes how the user can pay a fine to the Justice Department. FBI agent Herbert Stapleton said technology offers criminals an efficient way to commit fraud.