Cybercrime statistics offer a glimpse into the underworld

National cybercrime statistics from Canadian police forces have offered a unique insight into how cybercrime affects a large population – including the damage it causes, and how often the perpetrators are brought to justice.

The report was released by the Canadian police via Statistics Canada and reported by news outlet The Star – offering a unique insight into a grim underworld dominated by fraud (more than half of police-reported cybercrimes are frauds), but with undercurrents of violence and sexual abuse.

Up to 80% of Canadian police forces submitted cybercrime statistics, offering a valuable trove of data on the damage caused by cybercrime, from fraud, to online threats, to child pornography and violent abuse.

The results, which span a population of 27.5 million people for the year 2012 (the latest year for which data is available), show that cybercrime is far from being anonymous and victimless.

Cybercrime affects large numbers of people in a serious way (a total of 9,084 crimes were serious enough to be reported to police, or 33 cybercrimes per 100,000 population).

Worse, some serious cybercrimes are most commonly perpetrated by friends and acquaintances of the victims.

More than three-quarters (76%) of all accused were men, with teenagers and young men most often accused of intimidatory and sexual cybercrimes.

Cybercrime statistics: the criminals

Fraud and identity theft

The rates of prosecution for different cybercrimes make for depressing reading – with just 6% of frauds leading to an accused being detained by police.  

A larger percentage of accused were detained in investigations relating to intimidation and sexual violations, but fraud made up the majority of cybercrime across all Canadian forces.

Fraud accounted for more than half of cybercrimes reported to the police in Canada – 54%.

Taking into account other property violations (including identity theft, which constituted 4.6% of cybercrimes), property violations came to 61% of all cybercrime reported across forces participating in the study. Teen on a computer - 02 Feb 2013  

Cybercrime and violence

Threats of violence were a surprisingly common – and often under-reported – element of cybercrime, constituting one in five police-reported cybercrimes in the period under study, totaling 1,839 incidents.

Threats and harassment were the province of young cybercriminals.

More than one-quarter (28%) of those accused of intimidation violations were under the age of 18, with the proportion of accused declining with increasing age.

Perhaps the most shocking statistics in the police report related to offenders accused of violent cyber offenses – where a high number of victims know their accused attackers.

Victims were often young – 42% of victims of violent incidents involving a cybercrime identified by police were aged 17 and under, while 17% of victims were aged 18 to 24 – and attackers, using intimidation or threats, were people they knew. 

Overall, almost three-quarters (73%) of victims of violent incidents associated with a cybercrime knew the accused. For most incidents, the accused was known to the victim as a friend or acquaintance (45%), a current or former intimate partner (24%) or a family member (5%).

Sexual cybercrime

Child pornography and luring children for sexual purposes was a depressingly significant undercurrent to Canada’s cybercrime statistics – with nearly 16% of police-reported cybercrimes involving sexual threats to a child or child pornography.

In 2012, police reported 1,441 incidents of cybercrime relating to sexual violation – and charges were brought in a quarter of those cases.

Luring a child via a computer made up 6% of all police-reported cybercrimes, while child pornography-related offenses, which include accessing, possessing, producing and distributing child pornography, accounted for 9% of reported cybercrimes.

In the case of cybercrimes of a sexual nature, males accounted for 94% of accused identified by police.

Men accused of these crimes tended to be slightly older 22% of those accused of sexual cybercrimes were aged 25 to 34, the largest proportion among age groups.

Police services covering 80% of the population of Canada reported cybercrime data to the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics in 2012 through the Incident-based Uniform Crime Reporting Survey (UCR2.2). Data from Saint John, Québec, Toronto, Calgary, and the Ontario Provincial Police were not available and thus were not included in this analysis.

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