The Center for Democracy and Technology and the Center for American Progress have published a report entitled Online Consumers at Risk and the Role of State Attorneys General. According to the Report, the FTC received over 200,000 Internet-related fraud complaints this year, up from 16,000 in 2006 and 24,000 in 2005. And such numbers may be under-inclusive as consumers often do not know when they are victimized by malware.
The Report argues that state attorneys general need to devote more resources to combating online fraud as state consumer protection laws often offer greater protection to consumers than federal laws. To date, state action against online fraudsters has been limited—for example, in the past three years, state attorney generals have brought only 11 cases against spyware distributors, the same number as the Federal Trade Commission. The Report offers a number of strategies to assist a state attorney general’s office, such as additional training of investigators and prosecutors on how to identify online fraud and abuse, enhanced computer forensic capabilities to trace and catch Internet fraudsters, and expanded partnerships with commercial and public-interest coalitions to fight online fraud. More aggressive action by a state attorney general’s office would combat the notion that online fraud is an easy and cost-free way to make serious money.