Research Handbooks in Financial Law series
Edited by Barry Rider
Chapter 30: Computer related fraud
As with so many aspects of our lives, one of the oldest forms of crime has been transformed by the newest of technologies. Information and Communications Technologies (‘ICTs’) are now central to the way we interact, both socially and commercially. They also provide those who wish to defraud others with unprecedented access to potential victims anywhere in the world at negligible cost. With approximately 3 billion people connected to the internet, the pool of potential victims is vast. We also live in a world increasingly accustomed to conducting financial transactions electronically. In 2012, 59 per cent of internet users in the EU bought goods and services online.In the same year, 72 per cent of Canadians had engaged in online banking, while in Australia there were over 5.8 billion credit/debit card transactions. According to the US Census Bureau, the seasonally adjusted estimated value of US retail e-commerce sales for the fourth quarter of 2013 was US$69.2 billion. Although wonderfully convenient, the digital economy also creates diverse opportunities for those who seek to exploit our trust. Online offenders may not only conceal their real identities, they may assume realistic looking false identities. Electronically stored data provides a tempting target for those who seek to access our identifying information, while the production of false documents has never been easier. Even face-to-face transactions are not without their risks, with transaction card information vulnerable to being surreptitiously acquired. The extent of digital fraud is difficult to assess for a number of reasons.
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