Computer crime and criminals

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As technology develops, the world must adapt. Crime is an ever present problem, and with the proliferation of computer and computer technologies, crime using computers has become widespread. Computer crime, or cybercrime, is defined as any criminal activity in which computers, or a computer network, is the method or source of a crime. This encompasses a wide variety of crimes, from hacking into databases and stealing sensitive information to using computers to set up illegal activities. Since computers are so widespread, cybercrime has the ability to affect almost anyone today.

Society and computer crime

Society is becoming more integrated with computers, which means more personal information is online. Because of its ease, more business is also being conducted online. This attracts a growing number of criminals who can more easily get away with cybercrime than traditional crimes. Also, since it is harder to catch cyber criminals, they might feel a sense of protection. This leads to them committing cybercrime more frequently. Most people may have been affected by cybercrime in some way. For example, identity theft, a very damaging crime, is still on the rise, mostly through computers. This is the problem which society is confronting today.

Types of computer crime

Hacking Currently defined as to gain illegal or unautorized access to a file, computer or network.

Identity Theft Various crimes in which a criminal or large group uses the identity of an unknowing, innocent person.

  • Phishing: E-mail fishing for personal and financial information disguised as legitimate business e-mail.
  • Pharming: False websites that fish for personal and financial information by planting false URLs in Domain Name Users.

Credit Card Fraud A wide-ranging term for theft and fraud committed using a credit card or any similar payment mechanism as a fraudulent source of funds in a transaction.

Forgery The process of making, adapting, or imitating objects, statistics, or documents, with the intent to deceive.

  • Digital Forgery: New technologies are used to create fake checks, passports, visas, birth certificates with little skill or investments.

Scams A confidence game or other fraudulent scheme,especially for making a quick profit,to cheat or swindle.

  • Auctions: Some sellers do not sell items or send inferior products.
  • Stock Fraud: Common method is to buy a stock low, send out email urging others to buy and then, sell when the price goes up.
  • Click Fraud: Repeated clicking on an ad to either increase a site's revenue or to use up a competitors advertising budget.


Originally, the word, Hacking, was not used as defined above. Hacking was clever piece of code constructed by hackers who were smart and creative programmers. In 1970s to 1990s, the definition of hacking changed as many people started using computers and abused computer terminologies. By 1980s, hacking behavior included spreading viruses, pranks, thefts, and phone phreaking.

The difference between hackers and other criminals is the purpose of crime. Hackers commonly try to benefit not only themselves but also other computer users. Therefore, they have some ethics for their action. They believe sharing computer programs is important in development of new softwares.Openness will help people to access anything they need and use it for their personal demand. Decentralization will prevent authority from abusing information and controlling people. Hands On Imperative/Free access to computersItalic text is indispensable to break barriers between people and new technology. Those ethics will slowly change as the demand for computer changes.

Identity Theft

Today, threats of identify theft come in many forms. It is important that you learn how to recognize fraudulent activity to protect yourself from identity theft. Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personally identifying information, like your name, Social Security number, or credit card number, without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes.

For identity thieves, this information is as good as gold. Skilled identity thieves may use a variety of methods such as Old-Fashion Stealing, Skimming, Phishing, or Dumpster Diving to get hold of your information. Once they have your personal information, identity thieves use it in a variety of ways, for instance Credit Card Fraud, Bank/Account Fraud, or Government Document Fraud.

To prevent any such identity theft is to monitor you personal accounts, bank statements and check your credit report on a regular basis. If you check your credit report regularly, you may be able to limit the damage caused by identity theft. Filing a police report, checking your credit reports, notifying creditors, and disputing any unauthorized transactions are some of the steps you must take immediately to restore your good name.


As of today there are so many ways to get lured to online scams. People who scam others are often referred as scammers, cheaters and swindlers. Online scams are everywhere they can be fake auctions and promotions. When people read great deals online they believe what they see but in reality it is a game of deceit. The frauds can also happen with health care, credit card, vacation and lottery. The internet changed the way we operate from research, leisure and work. Every day people are cheated by these frauds. People get scammed by fake photos, damaged goods, misleading information, and false advertising. People are tricked into providing their private information like social security numbers, address, phone numbers and credit card information.


Digital forgery has become a big problem with the boom of the internet. Many businesses need proof of identity to perform a service, and with identity fraud being a larger goal for criminals this proof is difficult to accept as truthful. Criminals have access to much more advanced technology and are willing to go to further lengths to steal people's information. A social security number, credit card number, or bank account number are not strong enough proof to show who someone is anymore. Many companies ask for copies of a social security card, birth certificate, or a monthly bill with your name and address on it for further verification. Even going to these lengths is not enough. Digital forgery is taken one step further with software to recreate and manipulate these private documents and proceed with the scam intended.

Unfortunately these scams are being made even more accessible to even the least educated of internet criminals. It is to the point where a thief can obtain your credit card information and recreate your birth certificate for less than it costs to fill up his gas tank. This is frightening because you will never even know if it is happening to you. Everyone must be aware that there are always cyber-criminals on the loose, and no information is sacred on the internet.


  • Steven Levy (1984). Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution, page ix. Anchor Press/Doubleday

Joseph Menn (12 August 2008). Gangs Get Into Identity Theft. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 20 November 2008, Website:

  • Five Defendants Charged With Crimes Related To Major Internet-Based Counterfeit Movie Distribution Business. (30 October 2008). United States Department of Justice.

Retrieved 20 November 2008, Website:

  • High School Senior Hacks 38000 Private Records. (27 March 2008).

Retrieved 20 November 2008, Website:

Some issues(3~4 issues)

This section is not going to be a part of our page. This is just supportive source for your writing. You can use them as refference. (After this week, I will erase this section and store this on the other page of WIKI.)

[1] Credit card and employment-related frauds are among the top crimes in California. Identity theft is not only done by hackers like we all assume. The Department of Consumer Affairs has been investigating a former employee that has been sending social security numbers on State payroll to a personal email account. That former employee's husband is part of the Mexican Mafia. Identity theft is popular among the gangs such as the Armenian Power gang, Long Beach chapter of the Crips, and the prison-based Mexican Mafia. Computers, guns and paperwork for fabricating identities were found in several property searches in March 2006. The ring leaders have been found guilty and some men could face up to 90 charges.

[2] The Department of Justice has charged eleven people with credit card fraud. Nine major U.S. retailers were hacked into and the losses include sales and thefts accounting for more than 40 million debit and credit card numbers. The charges faced consist of computer intrusion, conspiracy, identity theft and fraud. There was a diverse nationality amongst the computer criminals which were Estonian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, and Chinese.

[3] In New Zealand, an eighteen year old boy was interrogated after his house was raided. During the operation, police confiscated various computers. Police officers suspected that the boy was the ringleader of an international cyber crime network. His network had access to 1.3 million computers and taken millions from bank accounts. The hackers from the cyber crime network used computers to crash industry computers, steal credit card information and manipulate stock trades. In the end, the boy was released with no charges.

[4] In Indiana, ten FBI investigators will target computer criminals such as identity thieves and hackers. These internet criminals typically live outside of the United States. They victimize Indiana banks, residents and businesses. Cyber crime is a growing worry in the United States. The task force will crack cases of criminals who take advantages of children, steal trade secrets and Internet fraud. An attorney general’s office has a unit against identity theft. They have investigated one hundred and forty cases and reacquired about ninety-eight thousand dollars.

[5] Samantha Leatiota is found using the computer to commit fraud. Her job was to provide payroll processing services. Her clients include companies both inside and outside of California. One of her clients was Green Waste, San Jose Company. She had adjusted Green Waste payroll records and overpaid her husband, an employee at Green Waste. She was charged with fraud in connection with a protected computer.

[6] In Boston, Massachusetts, a male juvenile computer hacker pleads guilty to the U.S District Court. He is relatively well-known in the hacker community. The male hacker is only sixteen years old. He pleads guilty to interstate threats, computer intrusion, and wire fraud, stemming from hacking, “botnet” and swatting activities. The government had successfully proven that he committed crimes from 2005 to 2008. He will be serving time for eleven months in a juvenile detention facility.

[7] A twenty-four year old, Jonathon Vance, from Alabama has been indicted for online extortion. He used various online screen names to get close to his minor female victims. He would pose as a long lost friend, relative or acquaintances and gain their trust. The girls would learn his identity after a series of personal information. After he knows the females’ secrets and personal information, he would demand sign-on usernames and passwords to or and/or tell to go onto the webcam and undress. If the victims did not do as told, he would threaten them that he would expose all their secrets and personal information such as past sexual experiences and sexual fantasies. Some of the victims obeyed to his threats and some did not. A set trial date is still not fixed. If Jonathon is found guilty, he could face up to thirty-five years in prison.

[8] Michael Wasa a senior at Taravella High School in Coral Springs has hacked into the school district’s computer systems. He gained access to more than thirty-eight thousand employees’ private records and social security numbers. The usage of the information is unknown. In his computer, police officers found folders containing his high school’s entire database and about making bombs. Michael had hacker programs, software, and student information that he used to alter credit card information. He is still under investigation and has not been charged.

[9] Michael Calce was only fifteen years old when he was arrested and pleads guilty to fifty-six charges. He was a known hacker under the name of Mafiaboy. He wrote a book where he reflected his crimes and the current security on the Internet. Michael’s crimes have caused losses ranging in millions of dollars to Yahoo, eBay, CNN, Dell and His book tells why people should not follow his footsteps. The book also offers personal net safety tips.

[10] In the United States there has been a significant increase of cyber crime activities. Email scams have doubled in the last three years. Losses have totaled more than three billion dollars. Cyber criminals are learning and developing new ways to become more convincing when they try to take money and identities. The criminals depend of Internet advertising and false websites. Those internet activities may persuade or ask for personal information or downloading malign programs onto their computers.

[11] This crime happened to be local. A woman in San Jose was an employee of a company that processed payroll papers for other companies. It just so happens that her company processed the payroll checks for the company that her husband worked for. She used her position and stealing some passwords to alter her husbands paychecks so he made more money.

[12] I found another case that was located in Morgan Hill, and took place within the company Philips. The senior product manager at the company helped design the architecture and product specifications for Philip's next generation of Luxeon Robel surface mountable power LEDs. He ended up resigning from his job, and planned to use or sell this information to another company.

[13] A man in Sacramento used the internet to contact the FBI in Washington DC. He threatened to kill members of the band Korn, and he also threatened the lives of law enforcement officers and federal agents.

[14] Trenton, New Jersey. U.S. authorities have arrested four men they say used a variety of scams to trick banks into releasing home equity funds.The four, who allegedly convinced U.S. banks to wire more than $2.5 million to banks in Canada, China, Japan and other countries, were connected to three others who pleaded guilty in federal court in eastern Virginia to charges in a $10 million bank fraud