The Buzz - 29

If Internet fraud were a battle of the sexes, men have the upper hand as both perpetrators and hapless victims

Internet Fraud

Boys will scam, be scammed

If Internet fraud were a battle of the sexes, men have the upper hand as both perpetrators and hapless victims. Thats just one of the takeaways from the 2005 annual report from the Internet Crime Complaint Center, or IC3, a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center.

Not only were 75.4 percent of the Internet fraud perpetrators male, men lost $1.83 to scams for every $1 a woman lost. In addition, 64 percent of fraud victims were male. "This may be a function of both online purchasing differences by gender and the type of fraudulent schemes by which the individuals were victimized," said the IC3 in its report.

Given that men are snookered the most, its no surprise that Super Bowl ticket scams were one of the more popular ways to separate Netizens from their dollars. Among other findings:

• The financial losses for all cases of Internet fraud in 2005 were $183.2 million, with victims losing a median amount of $424. Internet auction fraud accounted for 62.7 percent of complaints.

• Nigerian letter fraud had the highest median loss at $5,000.

• Most perpetrators lived in California (15.2 percent) followed by New York (9.8 percent) and Florida (8.4 percent).

• Alaska was the state with the most complaints filed (158.66) per 100,000 people.

Sponsored Search

Googles emerging conflict of interest?

Merrill Lynch analyst Justin Post in a research note pointed out an interesting tidbit to monitor for Google lovers—will the search giant compete with its advertisers? And, if so, does that diminish Googles standing with advertisers?

Post said that Google properties are increasingly popping up in sponsored ad results. "Sponsored link advertisers could begin to question Googles neutrality if Google increasingly integrates its own products and services in algorithmic and sponsored results," said Post. "Google has a conflict of interest between promoting Google content and providing the most relevant and unbiased results for users and advertisers."

Among the potential conflicts cited by Post:

• A search on the term "finance" returns Google Finance at the top of paid sponsored links on the right-hand side of search results. The promotion of Google Finance over paid advertiser links could be unfair for those bidding for the top position.

• A search on "used Porsche" returns a "refine your search" box at the top of the organic listings section. Users who refine their search with a ZIP code are transferred to Google Base, which provides a number of local Porsche listings on a Google Map.

Although Post highlighted the potential rift between Google and advertisers, he added that he wasnt aware of any negative feedback, and Googles internal promotion so far has been minimal. But Post notes that search neutrality could become an issue. Kanoodle on April 11 announced a deal to be the exclusive provider of sponsored links on Dow Jones sites.

"Kanoodle management has indicated that it has an advantage with publishers because it does not compete directly for users," said Post. "We believe this argument could resonate well with content providers, such as Dow Jones, that compete with content offerings from Yahoo and Google."

Blogs

Blog fatigue

Yes, folks, bloggers get tired, too. And who can blame them? Theyre rambling 24/7 online for the masses (if youre lucky).

A recent post from Microsoft blogger Robert Scoble on April 9: "Im gonna take some time off, think more about what I want to do as a blogger, as an employee, as a husband, as a father, and come back fresh. Translation: I gotta play some Xbox! ... Its possible that Ill take two weeks off cause my son will be here next week, and I wanna spend some time with him. Take care of the place while Im gone."

Apparently, Scobles break didnt urge readers to do the same. At last check, some 44 comments were made on his post.