Australian Institute of Criminology

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Theft, fraud and financial crime

The convergence of computing and communications technologies has changed dramatically the nature of our lives, at least for those of us who live in developed countries. We are able to do our shopping and banking from home, work and be paid electronically, and engage in leisure activities using computers. Government benefits are also able to be processed electronically and a wide range of services delivered on-line. 'Digitisation', or the process of reducing information to electronic streams of '0s and 1s' that are stored on computers, has enabled people to communicate more effectively and at lower cost than in the past. It has also meant that geographical boundaries are able to be crossed more easily. This has enhanced the process of globalisation of economic and social life enormously.

These same technologies that have provided so many benefits have, however, created enormous opportunities for economic offenders. Fraudsters are able to communicate with each other in secret, disguise their identities in order to avoid detection, and manipulate electronic payment systems to obtain funds illegally. They are also able to target a wide range of potential victims throughout the world, all from the comfort of their home or office. The risk of fraud is one of the principal barriers to electronic commerce systems becoming widely accepted in the community.

Source: Smith R 2002. New age fraud - electronic fraud, paper presented at the CPA congress 2000, 24-26 Oct 2000. (PDF 61kB)

Contents

Identity fraud

See: Fraud and white collar crime

Electronic funds transfers

See Fraud and white collar crime

Phishing

Corporations and governments 

Sales and investment scams

Electronic money laundering

Practical prevention guides