How to Report Email Fraud & Spam

By Mark Nero

Con artists, scammers and the like are increasingly relying on email to try to separate you from your money, and their efforts are getting more sophisticated all the time. The good news is several agencies in the United States investigate spam, email fraud and online scams. If you've been annoyed by unwanted emails, suckered in by a get rich quick scheme, and/or tricked into wiring money to someone you don't know, you have several options to report what happened.

Things You'll Need

  • Computer
  • Valid email address
  • Spam email you've received

Step 1

Forward spam emails to the Federal Trade Commission. If the problem you've been having is with spam alone, then forward the unwanted messages to the FTC at The FTC uses the spam stored in its database to pursue criminal actions against people who send deceptive email. Whenever you forward the spam, it's important to include the full email header and not leave out the email address or any other information that could be used to identify the approximate location of the computer that's sending you spam.

Step 2

Forward fraud/scam email to the Secret Service. Send to it to if you receive an e-mail from someone you don't know asking for your help in a financial transaction, like transferring a large sum of money into an account, or claiming you are the next of kin to a wealthy person who has died or you are the winner of some obscure lottery. Many people are unaware that the Secret Service, in addition to protecting the President of the United States, is responsible for investigating major fraud cases.

Step 3

Contact your attorney general. If you believe a crime has been committed, then report the crime by contacting your state's attorney general, and/or local office of consumer protection. The information for both should listed be on the official website for your state. It's also listed in the government pages of your local/regional telephone book.

Step 4

Contact the Internet Crime Complaint Center. The Internet Crime Complaint Center, known as IC3, is a multi-agency task force made up of the FBI, National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C), and the Bureau of Justice Assistance. It serves as a central hub to receive, develop and refer criminal complaints regarding cyber-crime. IC3 accepts online Internet crime complaints from either the person who thinks they were defrauded or from a third party to the complainant.

Tips & Warnings

  • Don't expect immediate results--or even an acknowledgment of receipt--when you forward spam to the Federal Trade Commission. It can be several weeks or a few months before the spam emails stop coming, depending on how soon the FTC can locate the origin of the emails.