The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has launched a massive billboard campaign to increase public awareness of the FBI’s Internet Crime Center (IC3) as a resource for combatting Internet-facilitated criminal activity.
Digital billboards featuring IC3’s contact information will be displayed in cities across the country including Albany, Buffalo, Kansas City, Knoxville, New Orleans, New York City, Phoenix, Oklahoma City, Salt Lake City, and San Diego.
IC3 defines Internet crime as “any illegal activity involving one or more components of the Internet, such as websites, chat rooms, and/or email. Internet crime involves the use of the Internet to communicate false or fraudulent representations to consumers. These crimes may include, but are not limited to, advance-fee schemes, non-delivery of goods or services, computer hacking, or employment/business opportunity schemes.”
Anyone located within the United States who believes they may be a victim of an Internet crime may submit a complaint with the IC3. On the complaint form, the IC3 asks for the victim’s contact information and any relevant information pertaining to how they were victimized.
IC3 then reviews the complaints and turns them over to the appropriate FBI cyber task force, who forwards to state and local task force members trained to investigate Internet-facilitated crimes. IC3 does not conduct investigations.
“IC3 is often the first piece of the investigative puzzle,” said IC3 Unit Chief Donna Gregory. “We receive victim complaints and then analyze, aggregate, and exploit those complaints to provide law enforcement with comprehensive reports that can be used to open new investigations or enhance existing ones.”
Although the number of complaints submitted to the IC3 increased in 2015 from the previous year, the FBI believes Internet crime is not always reported. The billboard campaign is designed to raise public awareness of IC3, so that more people know they have a resource to turn to if they become a victim.
The campaign is part of Operation Wellspring, an FBI initiative developed to connect state and local law enforcement to cyber resources. In addition to supporting Operation Wellspring, IC3 issues an annual report on Internet crime trends, publishes public service announcements alerting to new cyber crime threats, forms alliances with industry, and shares its complaint database with other law enforcement agencies.
Those who suspect they may have been a victim of an Internet crime can submit a complaint to IC3 here.