The descriptions below are utilized by the IC3 staff as guidance to determine how to categorize complaints. These are NOT definitions and should only be referenced for IC3 categorization purposes.
419 / Overpayment: (419) Solicitations from individuals requesting help in facilitating the transfer of a substantial sum of money. The sender offers a commission or share in the profits, but will first ask that money be sent to pay for some of the costs associated with the transfer. (Overpayment) An individual is sent a payment and instructed to keep a portion of the payment but send the rest on to another individual or business.
Advanced Fee: An individual pays money to someone in anticipation of receiving something of greater value in return, but instead receives significantly less than expected or nothing.
Auction: A fraudulent transaction or exchange that occurs in the context of an online auction site.
Business Email Compromise: A sophisticated scam targeting businesses (not an individual but a group of two or more people engaging in commerce, manufacturing, or a service) working with foreign suppliers and / or businesses that regularly perform wire transfer payments. The scam is carried out by fraudsters compromising legitimate business email accounts through social engineering or computer intrusion techniques to conduct an unauthorized transfer of funds.
Charity: Using deception to get money from individuals believing they are making donations to legitimate charities and / or charities representing victims of natural disasters shortly after the incident occurs.
Civil Matter: Civil litigation generally includes all disputes that are formally submitted to a court about any subject in which one party is claimed to have committed a wrong, but not a crime. In general, this is the legal process that most people think of when the word “lawsuit” is used.
Confidence Fraud / Romance: An individual believes they are in a relationship (family, friendly, or romantic) and are tricked into sending money, personal and financial information, or items of value to the perpetrator or to launder money or items to assist the perpetrator. This is basically the Grandparent’s Scheme and any scheme in which the perpetrator preys on the complainant’s “heartstrings.”
Corporate Data Breach: A data leak / spill of business data which is released from a secure location to an untrusted environment. A data breach within a corporation or business where sensitive, protected, or confidential data is copied, transmitted, viewed, stolen, or used by an individual unauthorized to do so.
Credit Card Fraud: Credit card fraud is a wide-ranging term for theft and fraud committed using a credit card or any similar payment mechanism (ACH, EFT, recurring charge, etc.) as a fraudulent source of funds in a transaction.
Crimes Against Children: Anything related to the exploitation of children, including child abuse.
Criminal Forums: A medium where criminals exchange ideas and protocols relating to intrusion.
Denial of Service: An interruption of an authorized user’s access to any system or network, typically one caused with malicious intent.
Employment: An individual believes they are working a legitimate job, and many times end up losing money or laundering money / items, or an individual is solicited about an employment opportunity.
Extortion: Unlawful exaction of money or property through intimidation or undue exercise of authority. It may include threats of physical harm, criminal prosecution, or public exposure.
Gambling: Online gambling, also known as Internet gambling and iGambling, is a general term for gambling using the Internet.
Government Impersonation: A government official is impersonated in an attempt to collect money.
Hacktivist: A computer hacker whose activity is aimed at promoting a social or political cause.
Harassment / Threats of Violence: (Harassment) To harass an individual or group. It may include the making of false accusations or statements of fact (as in defamation). (Threats of Violence) An expression of an intention to inflict pain, injury, or punishment, which does not refer to the requirement of payment.
Health Care Related: A scheme attempting to defraud private or government health care programs, which usually involve health care providers, companies, or individuals. Schemes may include offers for (fake) insurance cards, health insurance market place assistance, stolen health information, or various other scams and / or any scheme involving medications, supplements, weight loss products, or diversion / pill mill practices. These scams are often initiated through spam email, Internet advertisements, links in forums / social media, and fraudulent websites.
IPR / Copyright and Counterfeit: Intellectual property theft is the illegal theft of others’ ideas, inventions, and creative expressions (intellectual property). Intellectual property can include everything from trade secrets and proprietary products and parts to movies and music and software.
Identity Theft: Someone steals and uses personal identifying information, like a name or Social Security number, without permission to commit fraud or other crimes, and / or (Account Takeover) a fraudster obtains account information to perpetrate fraud on existing accounts.
Investment: Deceptive practice that induces investors to make purchases on the basis of false information. These scams usually offer the victims large returns with minimal risk.
Lottery / Sweepstakes: An individual is contacted about winning a lottery / sweepstakes they never entered.
Malware / Scareware: Software that is intended to damage or disable computers and computer systems. Sometimes, scare tactics are used by the perpetrators to solicit funds.
Misrepresentation: Merchandise or services were purchased or contracted by individuals online for which the purchasers provided payment, but the goods or services received were of a measurably lower quality than was described by the seller.
Non-Payment / Non-Delivery: (Non-Payment) Goods and services are shipped, and payment is never rendered. (Non-Delivery) Payment is sent, and goods and services are never received.
Personal Data Breach: A data leak / spill of personal data which is released from a secure information to an untrusted environment. Also, a security incident involving an individual’s sensitive, protected, or confidential data is copied, transmitted, viewed, stolen, or used by an unauthorized individual.
Phishing / Vishing / Smishing / Pharming: The activity of defrauding an account holder of personal or financial information.
Ransomware: A type of malicious software designed to block access to a computer system until money is paid.
Re-shipping: Individuals receive packages at their residence and subsequently repackage the merchandise for shipment, usually abroad.
Real Estate / Rental: Any time a consumer is defrauded of funds from a real estate investment. Fraud against a consumer who is trying to refinance, loan, modify, short sale, or reverse mortgage, or who is in foreclosure. Fraudster illegally transfers property to their name and rents out the property. Fraud where property was used to launder money; used as a grow house; used for counterfeit check schemes or fraudulent cash or virtual currency transactions; used for timeshare related scams, etc. Fraud involving a rental. This includes fake rental ads or real ads stolen and advertised by a perpetrator.
Terrorism: Violent acts that are intended to create fear (terror); are perpetrated for a religious, political, or ideological goal; and deliberately target or disregard the safety of non-combatants.
No Lead Value: Complaints with incomplete information or lacking enough information to appropriately categorize.
Social Media: A complaint involving a form of social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, chat rooms, etc.). Social Media does not include dating sites.
Virtual Currency: A complaint that mentions a form of virtual / crypto currency (Bitcoin, Litecoin, Potcoin, etc.).
Virus: A piece of code that is capable of copying itself and typically has a detrimental effect, such as corrupting the system or destroying data.