Cybercriminals in Credit Card Fraud

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Introduction

Thieves are currently turning into cybercrimes with a lot of anonymity because they think they are easier, more profitable and less dangerous. They prefer these cyber-attacks and particularly now engaging with online groups to execute more crimes especially on credit card frauds. The online criminal groups employ more sophisticated means of criminal activities using different styles of skilled players and moving within computer networks in unidentified names (Meyer, 1989). The stolen credit cards or ‘carding’ is later traded to outside countries like the Russia, Europe, USA and other places where their law enforcement cooperation lax and difficulties in extradition. The individual cyber criminals who used to work independently have now realized the significance of seeking expert help from the organized online groups who are pursuing credit card frauds (Boradhurst, Grabosky, Alazab, & Chon, 2014).  Carding or otherwise referred to as the credit card fraud is a major problem nowadays. The action requires the most skilled people who have technical abilities to carry out this kind of crimes. Many organized cyber criminals may not have these skills and therefore are on the move to look for the groups who can operate these activities online without being caught. Therefore, there has been a lot of virtual black market activities that are taking place worldwide where the groups are availing themselves with their skills and how they can comfortably hack websites for fraud. With the use of various recording gadgets, many credit card fraudsters are stealing both debit and credit card data at many places of online payments of restaurants, gas stations, banks and many other places where payments do occur. Therefore, the research will reflect on the cyber criminals who are now embarking on credit card frauds seeking more organized groups online for further criminal activities, and how these cyber-attacks can be curbed.

 Research Design

In this research, analysis of the existing data has been used to explain how currently offending cyber criminals are engaging in credit card fraud seek out organized online crime groups to support further offending. Some motivations are behind cyber crimes. Lately, these online activities have shifted their focus from the small attacks on the computers to revolve around financial gains. The credit card fraud or carding is one major financial problem faced by the majority of people who conduct online banking services through purchases and sales. These fraudsters use malware or phishing emails to access the individual financial details from the bank, or they can also operate a criminal damage like hacking and even the defacement of the website. However, there are always children who commit the cyber crimes, but for them, they are not always for any financial gains but general maliciousness, gaining power or respect from the online communities and even revenging for other unorthodox actions that might have been done to them. Most of these online crimes that include carding have now taken more advanced levels of their operations that have now sought out more organized groups from the online community to further their activities.

Moreover, the in-depth online technical skills do not necessarily apply to offenders in their hacking and cyber-dependent and other cyber-enabled crimes (Tomison, 2014). The presence of sophisticated and automated malware tools, available online have considerably boosted the skills of those who were unskilled. Other complex activities that are opening up are paving ways for the armatures as there are always some tutorials on the hacking styles found online. A tiny but advanced group of cyber offenders who are now taking advantage of the credit card activities online to some extent are thought to be involved in the creation of these sophisticated tools. These tools are then made available so that the only semi and unskilled offenders can eventually get access to them.

According to the analysis of the existing evidence of cyber crimesFurnell, they are not only about technical skills but rely immensely on the behavior of the victim in question. The current social engineering technologies are vital in the quest of deceiving computer-users on the reasons of a file or even an email sent to them. Phishing emails are consistently being designed to mirror the one in the bank or any other organizations to convince the owners into providing their information used to withdraw money. Case study evidence has proven that some of the traditional protocols of organized crime groups have embraced the values of the high-tech methods of hacking and carding (Choo and Smith 2008).  Through the use of extortion, credit card forgery, money laundering, and many other online frauds have provided a conducive environment for the criminals. These groups do not always work themselves online, but according to the empirical data evidence, they are sometimes forced to pay for the information they have received online to execute their activities, to operate in the real world and not the virtual world.

In addition to the study, the cyber crimes nowadays do not operate in the original way of activities. They are currently adopting the idea of working as looser online networks, where they are organized into groups of cyber criminals as a form of global market places (Roderic Broadhurst, 2014). They are now recruiting more individual members into their teams so that they can be able to operate as a more organized lot of skilled technicians. The groups are thus working together in an organized structure, where the individuals the group are connected by the same governance and hierarchy and therefore work together as loose affiliations for a shorter time. Researchers have come up with data from the previously existing results like in the USA, where they have explored the way these groups work and maneuver across different networks, where they interacted with them through online forums (Lusthaus, 2013). Through their findings, they came up with the discussion of how these organized groups are working with one another to ensure that they do more comprehensive work that will translate into more benefits to them.

Research Site and Sampling Strategy

Qualitative research has been utilized to provide a clear understanding of the offending behavior. The study involves three stages of the sampling strategies, where the first stage provides an in-depth knowledge of the qualitative analysis of the documents from courts, specifically the court’s judgments and sentencing remarks. These courts judgments are particularly extraditions that involve the computer frauds and any other means of unauthorized access in Australia. A systematic review has been used to identify the court cases that are relevant to the cyber crimes who are looking for online groups to employ their activities in a more organized manner (Muhammad Adnan Tariq, 2012). During the process, the documents that were available on public databases were found and then retrieved. However, these results were just from a selected sample of a larger population of the cyber crimes happening daily. The cases that were found legit and relevant in this sample of the population were a total of 54 cases, where 12 were female and 42 male offenders. According to a classification of the type of offense, 44.4% had committed a fraud offense while 27.8% had committed a hacking offense and 27.8% had committed offenses that were classified as both fraud and hacking.

The second sampling strategy consisted of interviews that involved officers of the law enforcement within the units of computer crimes and frauds specialists. These enforcement officers were from four different policing agencies; the Australian Federal Police, Victoria Police, the Queensland Police Service and the Western Australian Police (Queensland Police, 2014). The interviews targeted the officers who had experiences and prior knowledge and the notion of the offenders who have been singled out by the criminal justice systems. The types of interviews involved various styles, where open-ended interviews were typical, in addition to one-on-one and semi-structured. The structure of the forms of; the background of the interviewee, where they discussed the time they have been under the policing agencies. The study of the characteristics of the offenders including their age, family status, gender, and employment status. The skills and the expertise the offenders have including involvement of other types of offenses and offenders. The target selection, the motivations, the reactions of the offenders and the law enforcement. The law enforcers interviewed 15 officers, where 14 were male, and 1 was a female. The duration of interviews ranged from 32 minutes to an hour and 16 minutes (Cross, & Kelly, 2016).

The third stage of research site and strategy of the sample used was on the interviews of active and former offenders.  These interviews took place on a face to face type of interview, where the participants recruited were from within Australia. The type of sampling used here is a snowball sampling strategy, non-random and purposive method. The initial recruitment employed the informal networks, those that are known to the researcher who studied in the information technology industries. They also challenged to source more participants that they may come across. The advantage of this approach is that the recruiters can convince the potential participants that the researchers who want to get the information is a legitimate one and will not in any way expose their names without their consent (Yip, 2013). The recruitment consisted of advising the participants concerning the research and what it entailed by giving out the contact details of the researcher. As a consequence, the participants are tested on their self-discipline and members of the target population. For them, having the contact details of the researchers will enable them to be free in their information and are thus in control of the amount of content to be relayed to the researchers (Choo, & Smith, 2008). The interviews used here were one-on-one, open ended, and semi structured. The questions covered include; employment and living environments, time involved in offending, involvement in other illegal behavior, experiences with police and other criminal justice system and how skills were obtained and improved among other questions.

Advantages and Disadvantages of the Research Design

The research designs employed here have some limitations that affect the researcher. The limitations that are encountered when using court documents are that many matters of the courts are heard not in all courts but the lower courts. Therefore, the judgments here may not be published, and as a result, they are difficult to determine the matters that involved computer crimes including credit card crimes (Hutchings, 2014). Another demerit that affects the research strategy is that the cases brought before the courts are not the actual representations of the larger population of online fraudsters and hackers who are operating in organized groups and are supposed to be apprehended and prosecuted. The samples of the active and other offenders, who were initially involved in these types of activities, are not the exact representation of the population of the offenders. Also, those who agree to be interviewed may also have different results from those of the offenders themselves.

Nonetheless, one advantage of the strategy was that the sample was not to include the offenders who are part of the cyber criminals or any organized crime syndicate. The results may also include mainstream offenders who in a group may collectively cause cyber crimes of carding and creates fear of victimization (Etges, & Sutcliffe, 2008). They may reflect on how the organized groups can cause damage to the victims through their online malicious crimes. The advantage here was that the offenders who have been identified by the criminal justice are suitable for the research, as the information they will be relying upon will cover to a larger extent whether the activities were individual or they sought out the organized groups from the online communities to further their criminal activities

Data Collection Methods

The method of collecting data used in the research is the analysis of the pre-existing database of cyber criminal profiles to produce a methodology for profiling offenders (Warikoo, 2014). Therefore, the statistical analyses of the cyber criminals engaging in group activities to operate the credit card crimes are determined, where their motives, psychology and the general behaviors are studied. The respondents who were identified for the research questions were those who had some knowledge of the cyber crimes activities. They include those who were active cyber users and were relevant for the contributions they were making to the research. The profiling of these cyber criminals has been used to get the information of how they engage in the credit card frauds and the associated groups they tend to follow to pursue more criminal activities (Décary-hétu, & Leppänen, 2016). Consequently, the participants of the interviews were extensively involved with questions about their involvement and possible reasons. Open-ended questions were used in the interviews, and the format was maintained. They asked to particularly identify the characteristics which were inherent in the activities of carding and which might translate into something that may be understood by the research body and seen as precursors of criminal behaviors (Ablon, 2015).

The interviews were entirely unstructured to ensure there is a free flow of information and also to keep open the option of a clear probing as needed by the researcher. Throughout the interviews, the participants were asked to come up with information that contained their previous knowledge of the academic qualifications and personal experiences to bring on board the features of the cyber criminals. After the interview process was done, the responses were then collected by the researchers and the frequent instances of cyber crimes that emanated from the results were identified. They were then classified under one joint head, after which a particular profile was developed. A profile is an explanation of a criminal’s characteristics that is arrived at without having the prior knowledge of the identity of that individual criminal. Therefore, it is a psychological study of defined features that are most common in certain kinds of criminals. The profiling is essential when the research is focusing on narrowing down to the specific field of suspects, whether they are cyber criminals of hacking or credit card fraudsters (Bequai, 2001).

Through the results of the methodology, various factors led to the happening of these cyber-attacks. One of the reasons was the motives of the fraudsters. What motivates the cyber criminals to operate their activities mostly are reasons like monetary gains, emotions, intolerance, and disregard for the law, thrill-seeking and political beliefs (Choo, 2008). The psychological reasons also are what propel them to carry out the cyber-attacks. These include; determination, insensitivity and being passionate about computer know-how. The general behaviors of these criminals is also another primary reason for operating these activities where some are bullies by nature, resourceful, marginalized, low self-worth, lack of social skills, radical and anti-establishment.

One of the advantages of using the particular strategy of the methodology is due to its speedy results. The results are easily collected with online, and any other mobile tools, where the questions are directly asked through the interviews and the answers are given immediately. The cyber criminals would be asked many questions and will be received directly by the researcher as the results should reflect on what already exists in the database. Besides, the interviews and questionnaires will allow the researcher to gather different information for comparisons from various audiences at a particular period. The participants are also assured of their anonymity, something that will make them provide enough information needed for the research. On the hand, disadvantages also exist where there are differences on the part of understanding and interpretation of the data (Chantler, 1995). The trouble arizes when presenting the questions to the participants by face-to-face methods where each of the participants may have different interpretations of the questions. Therefore, unless there is someone who is conversant with the computer technology to identify the various cyber crimes that may have occurred, then the concepts may be missed.

Conclusion

In general, the techniques used by the cyber criminals to carry out their criminal activities online through carding and integrations with different organized groups have been the trend. They use the different technological know-how to look for more members online who can connect to different types of crimes where carding is the most prevalent. Therefore, through the research, the strategic approach has to be implemented to curb the problem once and for all.  New members have been recruited through the various online means where they meet to conduct their criminal activities. Most of these cyber crimes are moving from individual participation in more organized online groups. Through the interviews administered in the methodology, the participants were willing to share their experiences of cyber crimes and particularly the interviews that entailed those who previously were hackers. Through the results of the courts’ records of the cases that have brought to court for the hearing, it also provided good sources evidence for the online activities that are conducted in groups.