Cybercrime can be difficult to investigate and prosecute because it often crosses legal jurisdictions and even international boundaries. An offender may disband one online criminal operation only to start up a new activity with a new approach before an incident even comes to the attention of the authorities.
The good news is that federal, state and local law enforcement authorities are becoming more sophisticated about cybercrime and devoting more resources to responding to these threats. Over the past several years, many new anti-cybercrime statutes have been passed that empower authorities to investigate and prosecute these crimes.
Who to Contact
Local law enforcement: Even if you have been the target of a multijurisdictional cybercrime, your local law enforcement agency (either police department or sheriff’s office) has an obligation to assist you, take a formal report and make referrals to other agencies, when appropriate. Report your situation as soon as you find out about it. Some local agencies have detectives or departments that focus specifically on cybercrime.
The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3): IC3 will thoroughly review and evaluate your complaint and refer it to the appropriate federal, state, local or international law enforcement or regulatory agency that has jurisdiction over the matter. IC3 is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National White Collar Crime Center. Complaints may be filed online here.
Federal Trade Commission (FTC): The FTC does not resolve individual consumer complaints but does operate the Consumer Sentinel, a secure online database that is used by civil and criminal law enforcement authorities worldwide to detect patterns of wrong-doing, leading to investigations and prosecutions. File your complaint here. Victims of identity crime may receive additional help through the FTC hotline at 1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-438-4388); identitytheft.gov provides resources for victims, businesses and law enforcement.
Your local victim services provider: Most communities in the United States have victim advocates ready to help following a crime. These providers offer information, emotional support and advocacy as needed. Find local victims service providers here.
Collect and Keep Evidence Even though you may not be asked to provide evidence when you first report the cybercrime, it is very important to keep any evidence you may have related to your complaint. Keep items in a safe location in the event you are requested to provide them for investigative or prosecutive evidence. Evidence may include, but is not limited to, the following:
Certified or other mail receipts
Chatroom or newsgroup text
Credit card receipts
Envelopes (if you received items via FedEx, UPS or U.S. Mail)
Log files, if available, with date, time and time zone
Social media messages
Money order receipts
Pamphlets or brochures
Printed or preferably electronic copies of emails (Printed or preferably electronic copies of web pages