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Reporting Wire Fraud to the Internet Complaint Crime Center (IC3)

For several years I have been telling people who have suffered a wire fraud incident to fill out a complaint at the Internet Complaint Crime Center (IC3.gov). When asked why the answer always came down to because the FBI asked. The act of filling out that complaint can feel like an exercise in futility; you do not get a complaint number, do not get any contact information, and you never hear anything about the progress. So why should you fill out the complaint? Until recently, the only answer that I could give anyone was “there are some behind the scenes processes that occur ,” what those were, I had no clue; until last week.

You may have heard that the 2020 Internet Crime Report was recently released. If you are like me, you were waiting for that anticipating the current state of cyber fraud. The report, on Page 11, actually gives us the reason why we need to fill out the IC3 complaint.

In February 2018, the Internet crime complaint center established a Recovery Asset Team (RAT). The purpose was to streamline the communication with financial institutions and assist FBI field offices with the freezing of funds for victims who made transfers to domestic accounts under fraudulent pretenses. In 2020 the Recovery Asset Team worked on 1303 incidents and had a success rate of 82%.

Here is some guidance if you are the victim of wire fraud

  1. Contact the originating financial institution as soon as fraud is recognized to request a recall or reversal and a Hold Harmless Letter or Letter of Indemnity.
  2. File a detailed complaint with www.ic3.gov. The complaint must contain all required data, including banking information.
  3. Contact your local FBI field office.

To protect yourself from being the victim of wire fraud, never wire money based solely on an email. Always talk to the intended recipient of the funds on a known good phone number and verify the instructions before sending the money.

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