computer fraud



As much as $40 billion are lost every year due to flourishing computer crimes. In 1993 alone, Internet, the world wide system of computer networks, was swindled out of approximately $2 billion, and about $50 million were stolen from various companies such as GTE Corp., AT&T, Bell Atlantic and MCI ( Meyer and Underwood 45). Ironically these same organizations have been collaborating with software manufacturers for an expanded software production ( Cook 53 ). Multinational corporations and international authorities are threatened by these innumerable white collar crimes since such crimes are most difficult to prevent, and/or detect and highly profitable to the offenders ( Stern and Stern 525 ). This ever growing menace to society is assisted by the sophisticated computer technology which has also provided invaluable benefits to mankind. For instance, the advanced computer networks have recently helped to save lives in a faraway Chinese province. From information received through the Internet, a Chinese doctor was able to treat a desperate 13 year old girl, Yang Xiaoxia, of a mysterious flesh eating disease which had also killed eleven people in Great Britain in 1994 ( Turner 54 ).
On the other hand, Internet has caused serious and unpreventable legal problems, as passwords can be very easily broken, ideas stolen and wrong doings very difficult, if not impossible to trace ( Meyer and Underwood 44 ). For example hackers in Florida can pass comfortably through another computer in Finland, where they can strip any name and address, and move on to still another computer in Asia, where such piracy is not considered a serious crime ( Meyer and Underwood 45 ). For instance, 25% of computer software is considered pirated in the U.S., (Internet of course making things easy since you could send even large length programs to another user through E-mail) while in China, the rate goes up to 98%. In 1994 only, companies estimated to have lost $8 billion due to piracy ( Hall and Vancura 108 ).

Figure 1 How to prosecute offenders?
Furthermore, Internet Frauds are very difficult to prevent because a long time is required for most of them to be discovered. For instance, law enforcers need not only at least equal scientific and technical ability as the offenders, but also precious time and energy to examine company books and accounts to unravel such crimes ( Croal 14 ). It is also felt that prosecution is often incorrect and counter productive (Southerland 85). When the crimes are uncovered, the laws are too vague and too limited for proper prosecution ( Stern & Stern 528 ). The complexity of Internet fraud makes it very difficult for legislators to estimate the extent to such offenses, thus leaving many loopholes to be exploited by alert offenders. Moreover,
Internet “offenses and offenders do appear to enjoy structural advantages, and the outcome of the policies pursued by law enforcers is that many avoid public prosecution and punishment” ( Croal 91).



Furthermore, it is widely believed that so little has been done to prevent such computer crimes although adequate defensive technology is available for such prevention because computer owners and governments are arrogant and apathetic ( Schwartau 313-314 ). Nevertheless, at some point in the very near future, they will not afford any longer to be so. Even now, there are many debates going on in almost every country on whether of not this information highway should be censored or not. By censorship, I do not only mean material that is pornographic or such, but also certain information that is not really supposed to be exposed. Certainly though on the other hand, since we are supposed to be free citizens, information is not supposed to be kept from us since it is our right to know. As you can see, this debate is endless.
In addition to the enormous difficulty in its prevention, Internet fraud is even more difficult to detect. One reason is that the police do not use the detection programs efficiently eventhough such programs are regularly updated. Another reason for failure is that officers are not trained to work with non-print methods. According to senior FLETC Legal Division instructor, these detection programs are alien to law enforcement because “ cops have always followed a paper trail, and now there might