With the advancement of technology, there have emerged other forms of crime. There are new forms of crimes which are undertaken by online perpetrators. Unlike physical crimes, the perpetrators of these crimes are located miles away (Moore, 2010). Virtual crimes take place with the help of computers. They are undertaken with computer networks and computer programs which are malicious. Physical crimes are undertaken without any assisting complex technologies. This paper will focus on the issues that surround the virtual and physical crime and what distinct the two forms of crimes. The paper will further espouse the requirements that are needed in order to handle the two forms of crimes. There are issues that surround this new form of crime. These issues include the treatment that this new type of crime should be handled. The questions arise as to whether the crime should be treated the same way as the physical crimes. The reason for assuming this is that the crimes that have been committed are still the same. In addition, twenty-first century criminals have been known to make use of the internet to leverage their criminal activities. There are other forms of traditional crimes which have been handled and enhanced with the use of the internet. This includes traditional crimes like sex trafficking and drug abuse. There are also other instances where technology has been used to drive crimes that are related to technology. This includes identity theft, credit card theft, and stealing of intellectual property. The issues that arise from this are whether these are regarded as virtual crime or they are regarded to be virtual crime. These crimes take place and involve the normal theft but this time, the theft is undertaken with the use of technology. How to categorize this is something of great concern (Moore, 2010).
The criminals we see today have become sophisticated because they have networks that are well organized. They have mastered the skills they use to undertake their criminal activities and have known the organizations and groups that they are associated. They are regarded to pose a great danger to internet users. These criminals have the ability to victimize individuals and organizations at the same time.
Virtual crime conceptualization
There is no singular definition of virtual crime. This is something that has been hard to be achieved. There are many definitions that have been offered by industry experts and professionals. The definitions vary depending on the depth that the crime has been committed. One definition that has been offered by Symantec, one of the largest security companies is that virtual crime is any crime that is committed with the aid of computers and their associated technologies. Without dwelling on how to define this new form of crime, there are components that come into play when handling cybercrime. One of the components of great concern is the location of the criminals of virtual crime. Another component is the reason as to why virtual crime has been undertaken. There is also the component of the perpetrators of the crime that has been committed. The sections that follow will attempt to answer the why, when and where questions about the virtual crimes. This will help to answer the questions of how virtual crime perpetrators should be handled (Stephenson, & Walter, 2011).
Where: Virtual crime locations
The aspect of locations when it comes to virtual crime applies to both the physical location and the domain location. The domain location is the location of the computer network domain from where the crime has been committed. The physical demarcations and borders that are known in the physical world are not commonly seen in the world of virtual crime. There are obvious borders that separate the virtual world from the physical world. These are the keyboard, mouse, screens, and the use of the password. In the virtual world, the notion of the existence of boundaries is weak. This is not the main issue. The reason behind this is that the existence of boundaries in the physical world cannot be equated to boundaries in the virtual world. The issue of boundaries is different in the virtual world. Even though there are no borders in the virtual world, the digital world still is able to connect to the physical world. One example of this is where the physical electronic gadgets are placed physically in order to steal some information. The crime that is common in this example is that of placing an electronic device in an automatic teller machine in order to collect information. This is where physical crime and virtual crime connect. The device that has been set in the network can then be used to collect information from complex data reading electronics. It can also be used to send information to the criminal networks (Shrivastav, 2013).
Research has shown that there are virtual crimes which are regarded to be sophisticated and need more reliance on digital technology than other crimes. Such examples include phishing, identity theft, and denial of service which is distrusted to many networks. These virtual crimes require heavy reliance on computing and computer programming. Can this be compared to physical crimes? Some virtual crimes which rely less on information technology knowledge include cyber stalking and child pornography. The virtual crimes that rely heavily on technological knowledge can be said to be firmly in the cybercrime field than those which do not rely. Although this is the case, the cyber component that is associated with them helps them to be easily differentiated with the physical crimes. There is the role of technology that comes with these crimes. Computers and other enhanced and complicated technologies may be regarded as the components of virtual crime through such roles as being the container of the data that is being targeted. Another way in which they play a role is that they are normally used to undertake virtual crimes. They can be used to hold evidence of virtual crime.
Technology: virtual crime against physical crime
One way of seeing virtual crime is that they are the same as physical crime safe for the digital version which they take. They are the same as a physical crime only that they take electronic form. It is clear that many forms of virtual crimes can be regarded as physical crimes if the electronic/digital components are removed from them. This is because the main aim of these crimes can be said to be the same. The targets of both crimes are the same. Identity theft, for example, can take place both in the virtual world and in the physical world. Although the two crimes can take place using different media, the intention (monitory gains) and the outcome (stolen identity) can be said to be the same.
In the physical crime scenario, the criminal will steal a wallet or a mail which has personal identification of the owner. In the year 2011, two men were charged for stealing credit and debit cards from mail boxes of wealthy neighborhoods in South Florida. After the thieves obtained the cards, then withdrew large amounts of money and made huge purchases, worth over $786000 for the victims. There have been many cases where thieves are interested with personal identification information for monetary purposes (Shrivastav, 2013).
In the virtual world, the theft is the same as the physical world as the same person identifiable information is being targeted by the thieves. In September 2012, there were two citizens from Romania who pleaded guilty of taking part in remotely accessing into many merchant computer systems in the United States for monetary reasons. The defendants accessed, in a remote manner, the point of sale systems (POS) of the merchant payment system. They also remotely installed keystroke loggers that helped them to read the keystrokes of the computers. This was in the quest to gain information. the fraudsters would get this information when the users swiped the cards. The thieves stole information from approximately 6000 victims and sold his information for profits. There is another incident where two defendants made use of peer-to-peer network software to look for systems that share files. They then stole client information from these file-sharing networks. They also stole the passwords and account information of the victims. They transferred funds from the bank accounts of the victims to their prepaid cards (Maheshwari,Hyman, & Agrawal, 2011).
In many instances, the law enforcement agencies strive to ensure that they understand what is going on in the virtual world. This has enhanced the routine activities that were once driven by paper forms. With this virtual world, criminals are mostly prosecuted using laws which are used in physical crimes. This shows that there is no difference in the two forms crimes. The crime is the same and only the form with which they are undertaken is different. As research and information from the department of justice point out, the laws that are used to combat and prosecute virtual criminals are not as comprehensive and wide as those that are used to prosecute the physical criminals. One example of this is that of computer fraud (18 U.S.C $1030). This crime is not considered to be part of a predicate offense used for racketeering. This is under Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. This is one of the main tools that are used for prosecuting crime which is considered to be organized. As stated in the paper, organized criminals are continuously asking use of the internet and computers to undertake virtual crime. Despite this the case, the extent and the range of crime that are undertaken by organized criminals include both virtual and physical crimes. The government of Obama has requested that RICO Act be amended so that computer crime can be considered to be a predicate offense. With this, cyber-criminal organizations have been included in the list of targets coming under civil RICO so that offenses like bank fraud, wire fraud, and access device fraud have now been considered to be predicate offenses. The introduction computer fraud to the list of predicate crime is not immediately clear how this will help fight cybercrime (Maheshwari,Hyman, & Agrawal, 2011).
Borders and virtual space
One of the main reasons why virtual crimes and criminals operate is so that they are able to cross boundaries. The physical crimes are limited by geographical boundaries. In the virtual environment, criminals rely on the connectivity of the whole world to conduct crimes. Higher internet speeds have helped businesses have enhanced communications. This has also enabled virtual criminals to have wider networks and more targets than in the traditional physical setup. They are not able to cross boundaries without having to have documentations that are required in the physical world.
It is important to understand the constituents of the virtual world. This will enable in the understanding of he what constitutes a virtual crime. The virtual space is the independent information network infrastructures. They are made up of computers, processors which have been integrated into the system and also the internet. In simpler terms, the virtual world is the virtual collection information and the interaction of people.
It has been noted by experts that cyberspace is not fixed so that its operations and infrastructure cannot be determined by man. The virtual world is a world which has been constructed by human beings. With this fact that the virtual world was created by man, it means that it can be destroyed by the same man. Most the cyberspace can be altered and changed by man. This serves to bring out an important point that virtual criminals do not live the virtual space. They live in the physical world. It is only that their action cuts across the physical world to the virtual world. This also means that their actions affect people in the physical world. This brings out the important aspect that both groups of criminals can be prosecuted using the same sets laws. The crimes they commit, as it is clear, affect people in the physical world. These criminals in the cyberspace will make use of cyberspace to undertake crimes but they are still in the physical world.
Why: The motivating factor
The difference that has been noted with virtual crime and other crimes which are based in cyberspace is the motivating factor of the perpetrators. There are many motivating factors for cyberspace criminals. These include such factors as gratification, monitory, notoriety, and gratification. When analyzing crime, it is important to understand the notion and intention of the criminal. This helps to distinguish different forms of crime. One agent working for the FBI noted that whether one hacks into the website organizations post information so that everybody can see this information, or to get money, this is still a crime. Without understanding the main factory t drove the criminal to undertake the crime, it will be hard to distinguish the various forms of crime. Crimes will be similar.
The who factor in virtual crime is an important element when handling cybercrime. The who attribution is an important component as it helps investigators to know the real motive of criminal while they were undertaking the crime. This factor helps the investigate to know what category t crime can be put. In handling the case when they have been reported. Law enforcement normally faces big challenge in trying to know where the crime was undertaken and who was behind the crime. This has required so that the crime can be categorized either criminal or terrorist. Just like the physical crimes, it is clear that crime is the same. They are undertaken by some people. There are no people in the cyber world. This means that only one place can they be found: the physical world. This also means that they are going to be persecuted using the laws and policies in it (Cole, Smith, & Dejong, 2012).
Equality of the crimes
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Maheshwari, H., Hyman, H. S., & Agrawal, M. (2011). A Comparison of Cyber-Crime Definitions in India and the United States. Cyber Security, Cyber Crime and Cyber Forensics: Applications and Perspectives, 33.
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Shrivastav, A. K. (2013). ICT Penetration and Cybercrime in India: A Review.International Journal, 3(7).
Stephenson, P. R., & Walter, R. D. (2011, June). Toward Cyber Crime Assessment: Cyberstalking. In 6th Annual Symposium on Information Assurance (ASIA’11) (p. 1).