How to Report Online Fraud

How to report online fraud
Learn how to report online fraud if you get ripped off online.

Were you ripped off online?

If you’ve been ripped off on the web, this article explains how to report online fraud to the proper authorities. It includes a step-by-step method to force dishonest individuals or businesses on the internet to deal with you fairly, or at least how to cause them so much pain that they wish they had.

Most people and businesses on the web are friendly and honest, but many are dishonest and fraudulent. Did you pay for a product or service and didn’t receive it, or it didn’t turn out to be what you expected? Or, did you provide a product or service and didn’t get paid? Did you divulge personal information, or send money to someone you don’t know?

List of Steps to Report Online Fraud

Whatever the reason, being scammed online can be painful and embarrassing. Follow the steps below to investigate the fraud and file a complaint.

Gather Information

First, gather as much information about the dishonest party as you can. Get names, addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers. Download copies of chat transcripts, make screenshots of profiles, copies of emails, etc.

Let them know you’re taking action

Then, let the fraudsters known you’re taking action. This step is optional, but may help you resolve the issue without additional hassle. Inform the dishonest party that you intend to take action against them if they do not solve the problem equitably and honestly, and that that action will include charges of criminal fraud. Give them a chance to figure out that it would be much easier for them to just be honest.

Report Online Fraud to the FBI Internet Fraud Complaint Center

Go to the FBI’s Internet Fraud Complaint Center (IFCC) website, locate the type of fraud that most closely matches your situation, and click on the “File a Complaint” link to fill out an online form. The IFCC provides a convenient and easy-to-use reporting mechanism that alerts authorities of a suspected criminal or civil violation.

Report the incident to Internet Fraud Watch

Go to the Internet Fraud Watch website and click on the “Online complaint form” link. The Internet Fraud Watch was created by the National Consumers League, the oldest nonprofit consumer organization in the United States.

Also, if you’re dealing with a business, report the fraud to the Better Business Bureau Online website. BBBOnLine is the arm of the Better Business Bureau that specifically deals with websites. The BBB contacts the business involved in the dispute to see if they want to work it out amicably. When a company has a lot of complaints at the BBB, it will affect its rating.

Contact the Attorney General’s Office

Use a search engine to find out how to contact the Attorney General’s Office of the state in which the dishonest party operates. Then file a complaint. If your complaint involves fraud, this could result in criminal charges against them.

Lookup the Domain and Hosting Company

If a website is used as part of the fraud process, go to the ICANN website and do a WhoIs lookup. Unless the owner has private registration, this will reveal who owns the site and where it is hosted. Make a note of all relevant information.

Also, contact the web hosting company and let them know that they are enabling scammers by hosting the site. Inform the company providing them with web hosting that if they continue to provide the dishonest party with web service, their company may be charged as an accomplice in a criminal action.

Connect with other victims

Use a search engine to find message boards and discussion forums that might be interested in your problem. You might find that many other individuals have been ripped off by the same company and you may be able to initiate a class action lawsuit or at least learn how others are dealing with the problem.

Additional Tips

In your attempt to punish the dishonest party, it is very important to stick with the facts. Don’t exaggerate or make false accusations. If you exaggerate, they could turn around and file a lawsuit against you for false advertising against them, or for character defamation.

Keep your actions focused on solving the actual problem. If you begin contacting the dishonest party or other parties related to them with information or accusations not related to the actual problem, you could be charged with harassment.

However, you cannot be charged with harassment for frequently contacting a party in an effort to get a product or service that you paid for and didn’t receive, or to get paid for a product or service that you have provided.

Questions and Comments

If you have any questions or comments about how to report online fraud, please post a message below. Also, learn more about other Frauds, Scams, and Schemes.

Michael Kissiah is the owner of Brandy Lane Publishing, LLC, which owns and operates a small portfolio of websites, including Michael created more than 20 years ago after working as a private investigator in the state of Florida. Since that time, he has become an expert at how to find information online and has written over 1000 articles on topics related to the investigation industry. In addition, he is the author of the "Private Investigator Licensing Handbook", available at


  1. I order a service upgrade for a device that needed to be shipped to LA, Ca. I paid the 95.00 service charge. The device is cost 950.00. What are my options on getting the device back or having them refund the cost of the device and the service charge?
    Thank you for any advice.


  3. I ordered a product for an elderly person I help from They took the money but cannot contact them, as no order confirmation, phone gets cut off and email doesn’t work. Sick of these vile people who think this is OK.

    • How did you pay for the product? If you paid with a credit card, you can dispute the charge with your credit card. As long as you report it to them in a reasonable amount of time. If you paid with a check, see if can put a stop payment on the check with your bank.

  4. I have a charge on my card from THEKITTYCLOTHES.COM for $59.99. I have never even heard of them before. When I emailed them I was informed that this was my BI-annual charge for their membership. Huh? I am even allergic to cats! They then via email gave me the link to where my “membership” was and my “member” number. I went to the site- where I have never seen such cheap, overpriced Cra* in my life. And they are saying I paid $59.99 for it.. Well, I didn’t and this is obviously fraud period! I am reporting them to EVERYONE! In their “Terms and Coditions” It states there are NO refunds. I replied to their email and highly advised that they return my money. We shall see!

  5. Hello, Today 28th July I placed an order the amount was $67.00, when the sale was completed I have a bill for $495.00. all of which I never ordered. I was not shown this account set up until the sale was finalized. It is an obvious scam, especially with no reply. I would not usually order from America being the inventor of the scam. Thanks for listening. L.D.Witham

    • There are probably steps you could take, but the effort will be difficult. In general, the options are: contact law enforcement in China, contact the Chinese Embassy in the United States, contact the U.S. Embassy in China, or contact an attorney in your local area. It is unlikely that law enforcement or the Embassies would be interested in helping, unless it involves a significant fraud ring. A local attorney in your area may be able to provide some advice, or even write a letter to the company.


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