Online fraud is a crime that often involves online payments. It can take many forms. One common method of committing online fraud is to sell a non-existent product or forfeit the delivery of a product. Phishing is also common, which is using Internet messages to gain illegal access to the victim’s banking data or passwords. Common types of fraud are the use of someone else’s personal data or non-payment of service delivered. Other types include insurance scams in which a person deliberately misleads an insurance company, and various payment frauds that involve the misuse of a bank card, a debit card or a credit card.
The frequency of online fraud has nearly doubled since the turn of the millennium, and people of all ages are targets. The growth is partly due to the huge increase in online transactions and online trade. Modern technology and the popularity of social media have created opportunities to commit fraud anonymously or with a fake profile. Online fraud is everywhere: its victim can just as well be a woman in Finland, a man in Asia or anyone conducting transactions on the Internet. Geographical location has become almost irrelevant in the online world. It is not uncommon that the police investigate series of online frauds where the perpetrator has hundreds of victims.
Becoming the victim of fraud usually lead to financial losses that are difficult to recoup. Even if the perpetrator is caught, sentenced and forced to award damages to their victim, it can be very difficult to get recompense from the perpetrator, an insurance company or the State Treasury of Finland. Moreover, nearly all fraud victims have a powerful sense of guilt and shame over having been duped, although the circumstances can be quite different for each victim. One can become a victim of fraud by responding to a single sales message or contact request, or it can be the result of sustained online involvement or even everyday interaction with an acquaintance. All fraud victims are targets of abuse because they have trusted another person and have in good faith or unwittingly been led to give money to the perpetrator or to offer personal data that enabled the perpetrator to access their bank account. Fraud victims nearly always believe the perpetrator is acting with good intentions and in the belief that the situation will improve, and that the perpetrator’s account of the situation is true.
It is difficult to admit to yourself that you have been cheated, and often we maintain hope that things will be alright in the end. The perpetrators of fraud are also skilful in prolonging trust, and they know how to act so that the victim refrains from demanding documentation of the transactions. The victim may feel that the fraud is difficult to prove. However, the lack or small amount of written evidence is no reason not to report a crime.