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Washington among top 10 states for cyber crime; Paul Allen hit

The Associated Press
An AWOL soldier from Pittsburgh is charged with bank fraud for allegedly stealing the identity of one of the world's richest men: Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.

Sitting in a coffee shop with a friend 10 days ago, I got a call from an 800-number, I took it and it was a credit card fraud warning. I didn’t answer the questions and ended the call. You know, never give information to unsolicited caller.

Then it hit me that maybe my family debit card would be shut down, so my wife called our bank and suddenly Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and I had something in common financially! We’d both had our credit/debit cards hacked.

And apparently we're not an exclusive club.

Turns out, according to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center), Washington is 10th in the nation for fraud of this nature.

Top 10 'complainant states' in 2010:

  1. California
  2. Florida
  3. Texas
  4. New York
  5. New Jersey
  6. Pennsylvania
  7. Illinois
  8. Virginia
  9. Ohio
  10. Washington

In 2010 IC3 received a total of 7267 complaints from the state of Washington.

Top Referred Complaint Categories from Washington:

  • Identity Theft 17.6 percent
  • Non Delivery of Merchandise /Payment 15.9 percent
  • Credit Card Fraud 11.8 percent
  • Auction Fraud 7.4 percent
  • Miscellaneous Consumer Fraud 7.3 percent
  • Computer Intrusion/hacking 6.8 percent
  • FBI Scams 4.6 percent
  • Overpayment Fraud 4.5 percent
  • Advanced Fee Fraud 4.1 percent
  • SPAM 4.1 percent

Percent by Monetary Loss

  • $.01 - $99.99 20.2 percent
  • $100.00 - $999.99 38.6 percent
  • $1000.00 - $4999.99 27.0 percent
  • $5000.00 - $9999.99 6.9 percent
  • Over $10000 7.3 percent

The top dollar loss complaint involved relationship fraud and totaled $248,623.00 while the reported loss throughout the state exceeded $9,800,000.00, the report states.
Paul’s lament

A federal criminal complaint unsealed Monday says 28-year-old Brandon Lee Price called Citibank in January and changed the address on Allen's account from Seattle to one in Pittsburgh, then had a new debit card sent to him at that address, according to the Associated Press.

Investigators say Price used the card to attempt $15,000 in transactions, including paying on a delinquent Armed Forces Bank account and making purchases at a video game store before his March 2 arrest.

Back to cash

For me, someone had stolen the information off my card – which I still had in my possession – and was executing a sloppy online buying spree that set off alarms within my bank's computer system. The thief had ordered online: sports clothing, a bunch of food from a solidly average chain restaurant (shrug), and other stuff.

I'd never had this happen before, but a bit of panic was soothed over by my bank which assured me the card had been shut down and the fraudulent charges would be reimbursed to my account. I was chastised for using a debit card in places where it could leave my sight and someone could grab the security code off the back as well as the number.

I’m using cash (cards with small limits for online orders) … hey it’s like the 1980s all over again.