Internet crimes cost 289b yuan

By Li Cong Source:Global Times Published: 2013-1-29 0:53:01

An average of 700,000 Web users in China are victims of Internet crime every day, and the annual economic loss reached 289 billion yuan ($46.44 billion) in 2012, according to a report released by the People's Public Security University of China on Sunday.

The report is the first in China to study Internet crime and was written by experts from the university.

According to the report, public security departments across the country investigated more than 118,000 Internet cases over the past year, many of which involved multiple victims.

The report noted that the vast majority of Internet crimes go unreported as they may involve only small amounts of money and seen as not worth the hassle to involve authorities.

The top threats include fraud, prostitution, pyramid selling and personal information theft.

Both the number of victims and the amount of money involved were considered in the rankings.

The report said that compared with conventional fraud cases, online crimes are more difficult to solve.

By the middle of 2012, one in three online shoppers had been victimized by fraud or had encountered illegal phishing, causing 30.8 billion yuan in losses, according to the report.

"Internet crimes are rising year on year as the number of Internet users have also increased dramatically," Wei Yongzhong, a professor with the People's Public Security University and lead author of the report, told the Global Times on Monday.

China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology reported last week that the number of Internet users in the country reached 564 million at the end of last year.

"The public and government departments are not fully aware of the importance of taking precautions," said Wei.

The lack of legal support is cited as a major hindrance to the effort to fight online crimes, said the report.

China passed a regulation strengthening Internet information protection at the end of 2012, which aims to secure Web users' personal information.

However, the report pointed out that a comprehensive law on Internet crimes is still badly needed considering the current situation.

Wei said that Internet crimes are normally dealt with by using regulations or articles in the criminal law, that vaguely relate to Internet crime but are not entirely practical.

"For example if hackers attack the website of a financial organization and transfer money, there are no laws pinpointing the parties responsible during the Internet invasion. It is unclear whether the hacker, the bank's website or any other related party should shoulder some responsibilities for the crime," Wei said.

Wei also added that the crackdown on Internet crimes involves concerted effort, not only from government but also from network operators and information access providers.

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