Computer fraud and the rise of white-collar crimes

On Behalf of | Oct 21, 2014 | White Collar Crime

Prior to 1939, American law enforcement officials paid more attention to so-called “street crimes” than those types of crimes committed by people in higher status occupations. That is when the groundbreaking criminologist Edwin H. Sutherland introduced the notion that people of high social status were capable of committing a wide scope of crimes against property that were receiving relatively little attention up to that point.

Things have changed tremendously since Sutherland’s assessment of law enforcement practices. Today, the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are actively involved in tracking down and prosecuting individuals involved in all manner of crimes against property that involve the use of computers. Some of these crimes include hacking financial institutions, stealing personally identifying information and even corporate espionage.

A recent report by the FBI indicated that the ascendance of computer technology has facilitated an increase in the amount of white-collar crimes particularly those involving fraud, forgery/counterfeiting, embezzlement. The report looked at statistics taken from the National Incident-Based Reporting System to determine which methods were best to fight these types of crimes.

One of the most interesting datasets found in the NIBRS statistics is that law enforcement agencies often have difficulty in determining the exact numbers of crimes that were facilitated through the use of computers. This is because the government is often unable to pull data from their records that reveal how much a defendant’s use of the computers actually enabled them to commit particular offenses.

Another interesting point in the report were the statistics comparing arrest rates with prosecution. The report found that the prosecution of individuals arrested for crimes involving fraud were declined approximately 12.51 percent of the time. This typically means that there was insufficient evidence against the defendants to support their convictions.

If you are a Florida resident currently facing charges for white-collar crimes, you should know that your arrest does not necessarily mean you will be convicted. Although law enforcement officials may want you to believe that they are all-knowing, this report would suggest otherwise. Although each case is different, it may still be possible to undermine the evidence being presented against you to the point where the government will decline to prosecute for reduce its charges.

Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation, “The measurement of white-collar crime using uniform crime reporting” Cynthia Barnett, Oct. 21, 2014

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