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Cyber-Crime: FBI/Criminal Investigation

Cybercrimes are generally defined as any illegal criminal action when an individual gets access to a computer or computer network without the permission of the owner so as to acquire precise materials, obtain information that is sensitive or to destroy information that is already in the computer system. The main examples of cybercrimes include theft of credit cards, computer fraud, and identity theft. Most of the cyber crimes involve the practices of hacking; however, there are cases of cybercrimes that happen without applying the hacking process. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), in the United States, cybercrimes crimes are either carried out against an individual, against the property of an individual, against the society, against private organizations or against the government (Goodman, 2001).

Against individual

Types of cybercrimes that are against individuals include drug trafficking, harassment, and offensive content. Drug traffickers usually use the advantage of the internet to do their illegal actions by using emails that are usually encrypted. They usually use internet cafes and use courier websites to track down illegal drugs. The rising internet drug trade is also due to the nature of the whole activity as it does not involve a face to face communication. The type of information on some websites is usually offensive and harassing for a range of reasons. Offensive content might include child pornography whereby this content is offensive in a number of ways. Any content that may be found discourteous or offensive is well thought-out to be harassment (Selin, 1999).

Against individual property

Cybercriminals, whose actions are particularly against properties belonging to people, include activities such as electronic funds transfer fraud and the dissemination of materials that are offensive. There has been an increase in electronic funds transfer fraud in recent years; this is due to the advanced technology that involves the risk of making transactions online. This means that transactions can either be diverted or taken into hold. As a result, credit numbers are easily accessible electronically and physically over the internet. This is done via the recreation of the digital information that is usually kept on the card. For instance, in 1994, Vladimir Levin, a Russian hacker, working from St Petersburg, retrieved the computers of Citibank’s central wire transfer department, and transferred money from large business accounts to new accounts which had been created by his assistants in other banks in the United States. Second, dissemination of materials that are offensive is a cybercrime whereby racist propaganda, sexually explicit materials, and other useful materials via the telecommunication services are also considered as cybercrimes (Thompson, 1997).

Against of society

Cybercrimes against society include such crimes as cyberbullying and cyberstalking. Cyberbullying is a destructive use of the Internet and associated technologies to offend other people, in an intentional, recurring, and aggressive manner. Cyber-bullying can be an effortless and ongoing form of bullying when a person keeps sending e-mail to someone who has declared that he/she doesn’t want any more contact with the sender, however, cyberbullying may also include threats such as offensive sexual remarks, uncomplimentary labels, ganging up on victims, making a mockery of them, and fake statements posting that is intended to bring public humiliation. Cyber-stalking entails the use of the Internet or other electronic ways to track a person, a group of individuals, or an association. It can include false accusations, making threats, identity theft, damage to information or equipment, the solicitation of minors for sex activities, or gathering of information in order to stalk someone (Thompson, 1997).

Against Private Organizations

This is the major point interest of cybercriminals. Criminals may gain access to the switchboard of organizations by impersonating an employee, such as a technician, by falsely obtaining an access code belonging to an employee, or by using hack software available on the internet. Telecommunication piracy entails the use of Digital technology to commit crimes such as the reproduction of materials that are copyrighted for personal use or to disburse them at lower prices than the recommended ones.

Against the government

Cyberwarfare and terrorism are among the most common crimes against the government of the United States. Government officials and Information Technology specialists have recognized a noteworthy rise in cyber issues and technology scans ever since early 2001. Telecommunication piracy against the government by an individual or a group of cybercriminals is an illegal activity that involves any interference with the data systems belonging to the government without the authority to do so (Wood, 2006).

Cybercrime generally refers to all the offenses that involve a computer plus an available network. The computer, in this case, may be used for a crime or it may be targeted by the offenders. Cybercrime has recently advanced due to the rise in the number of social sites on the internet; these are referred to as modern telecommunication networks. These include chat rooms, notice boards emails, and groups. This paper will focus on the activities of cyber offenders, including computer crime and computer frauds, their motivation and the best methods of stopping or discouraging these activities.

Computer Fraud

Executive summary

In the past few decades, there have been changes in the technology sector, electronic sources have been increased; this had an impact on the sector as it has brought about a new type of crime referred to as computer fraud. Apparently, there is an increase in computer fraud cases and it creates a new and permanent challenge to law enforcement corporations and agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) at all levels, as they have to find the ways how to put stop, investigate, and take legal actions against these crimes (Richardson, 2004).

Defining the problem

Law enforcement agencies, such as the FBI in the United States, and other agencies in the world usually have different views on what computer fraud entails. The most frequent questions about computer fraud are the following: Do computer frauds normally involve a computer? Can the theft of a computer result in computer crime and fraud? Are such long-established crimes as theft, stalking, and fraud that are now creating use of digital materials viewed as computer crimes, or only as conventional crimes that integrate a new means of achievement?

Introduction to Computer Fraud

Computer fraud can be explained as a kind of computer crime. Computer fraud applies electronic resources to carry out fake or distorted information as a means of a sham. According to the FBI, the fraud actions that are currently taking place in the United States and other parts of the world and that use electronic materials are mainly variations of conventional existing computer fraud activities that seek to exploit a new medium. The Bureau of Justice Statistics draws fraud as “…the deliberate misrepresentation of data or personality in order to mislead others…” and inserts the qualifier of “use of electronic resources” to define computer fraud. In general, computer fraud is supposed to contain the same basic description of conventional fraud, while using new qualifiers that acclimate its application for electronic resources (Wood, 2006).

Nature and motivation of Computer Fraud

Basically, computer fraud is whichever type of fraud system that applies one or more Internet services, such as e-mails, social sites, chat rooms, and message boards, to carry out fraudulent dealings or to convey the earnings of fraud to monetary institutions or to others associated with the system. There are several types of computer frauds. Nigerian email computer fraud is one of the most common cybercrimes. This crime entails a situation whereby the victim receives e-mail from a supposed son of a departed Nigerian head of state, who occurs to be the beneficiary to millions of dollars that are concealed in accounts internationally. The e-mail receiver is basically made to believe that he/she is entitled to the fortune if he/she will be of help. All that is required in exchange for this type of fraud is a lawyer’s charge of the respective sum of money in order to claim the cash. Individuals who fall victim to this cybercrime send their money and never obtain their expected fortunes as promised. The Nigerian e-mail fraud is one of the most popular cyber fraud offenses and it appears to be spreading to diverse parts of the world. Other types of computer frauds include the following ones (Richardson, 2003):

Advance Fee Fraud Scheme; whereby the victim is needed to give a significant sum in advance of getting a considerable amount of money or products. Usually, a victim pays the required sum and receives nothing in return. The victim may be also convinced to have won a large reward in a fictional foreign game of chance (Richardson, 2003).

Business or employment computer fraud; this fraud basically integrates identity theft, cargo forwarding and shipment, and fake check systems. The fraudster positions a help-wanted advert on the famous Internet employment search sites or social sites. Respondents are needed to fill out applications in which they reveal sensitive private information, such as Social Security number and their date of birth. The fraudster then uses that information to purchase goods on credit.

Spoofing/Phishing is a computer fraud system whereby an individual pretends to be somebody else, using a web site or email of another person. This is classically done by replication of the content on the website of a genuine website to the fraudster’s newly formed website by the fraudster. This system entails the use of spoofed emails and websites in an effort to trick the victim into revealing sensitive information, such as bank credit card numbers, bank account information, and passwords (Richardson, 2003).

Due to the developing technology in computers and networking via the help of the internet, the Federal Bureau of Investigation on cybercrime notes that these activities are not likely to go away any time soon. Therefore, the best way to stop these frauds would be an attempt to reduce the number of cases by coming up with long-term solutions that will solve the problem of cybercrimes. Fraudsters who are caught should be charged in the court of law and if found guilty should be punished so as to show the seriousness of these issues. Some of the methods that can help the security agencies in combating computer fraud include:


In the United States, several federal laws were created to fight computer fraud. For instance, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act recognized in 1986, states the federal punishments for particular types of cybercrimes that involve the use of a computer system to carry out the illegal activity. The USA PATRIOT Act, approved in October 2001, offers more than a few segments which expanded the capability of law enforcement officials, such as the FBI, in criminal investigations that are conducted via the use of computers. Section 217 of this Act allows victims of computer crimes to have law enforcement officials to watch the computer fraudsters. Section 814 of the same Act presents sentences for cyber terrorism. Lastly, section 816 advocates for the expansion of computer forensic laboratories and training for officers in the law enforcement sector that take up in investigations related to computer frauds (Krebs, 2004)

Internet Crime Complaint Center

In 2000, the FBI with the help of the White Collar Crime Center created the Internet Crime Complaint Center. The role of this center was to collect complaints of Internet fraud. The received complaints were then evaluated by Internet fraud specialists together with supervisory special agents. Consequently, the center circulates all relevant information to the proper law enforcement agencies on the local, federal, or state level. Upon the creation of this center, it received an approximate of 30,500 legitimate criminal complaints relating to computer fraud in the first year. The Internet Crime Complaint Center has continued to help law enforcement agencies over the past couple of years. Those individuals who are victims of Internet fraud can file a complaint at the Internet Crime Complaint Center’s website (Rantala, 2004).

Professional organizations

There are a number of specialized law enforcement groups planned to offer training and analytical resources for computer fraud. These groups work autonomously, as well as with local law enforcement agencies. Many of these associations are the basics of federal law enforcement groups. The Department of Justice’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section upholds the nationwide Cybercrime Training Partnership. The function of this group is mainly to grant direction and assistance to federal, state, and local law keeping agencies in an attempt to ensure that the law enforcement population is appropriately trained to deal with electronic and high technology computer crimes.

There are several organizations whose role is to offer analytical assistance to law enforcement organizations. One such associations are the National Infrastructure Protection Center that operates under the authority of the FBI. The association was formed in 1998 and it deals with reports of criminal acts on computer systems, as well as conducts direct investigations together with other organizations. The Internet Fraud Alert (IFA) Program and the Internet Fraud Complaint Center work to assist law enforcement agencies in carrying out investigations. These organizations work as a recommendation center for computer fraud; this ensures that information is conveyed to suitable resources (Thompson, 1997).

Generally, constant research and publications should be formed and developed that particularly address cybercrime issues. These attempts will permit the cybercrime subject to be fully researched by government officials, such as the FBI, and other security agencies. This will aid those involved in its impediment, research, and prosecution and will keep them abreast of emerging fraud trends, as well as of significant cases that are relevant to the legislation. These efforts will also aid authenticate crimes such as computer fraud and will promote its research and efforts taken to tackle it. In addition, a supply of relevant links should be formed, maintained, and dispersed. The database should be formed; it should contain specific information on precise areas of computer crimes and fraud and the most common computer frauds in different fields. This could be a very useful source of information for security investigators nowadays and in the future. Computer crime and computer fraud are progressively becoming the main threat. However, as presented in previous research and via discussions of contemporary law enforcement legislative bodies, the attempts to arbitrate this threat are diverse and faced with several challenges. In the future, law enforcement agencies will have to focus on these topics. Law enforcement organizations can benefit from the opportunity to increase their efforts to deal with computer crime and computer fraud so as to keep pace with these emerging threats (Wood, 2006).

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