The computer has evolved a great deal since its creation over a third of acentury ago. The uses of the computer now seem endless.
Unfortunately some ofthose uses include computer crimes. This paper will explore some recent crimesthat have occurred and the laws that apply to them. The first such incident took place in Russia between June and October1994. Six people were arrested in the scheme, in which $10 million wasallegedly shifted from Citibank to accounts in Finland, Russia, Germany, theNetherlands, the United States, Israel, and Switzerland.
Of the $10 millionstolen, $400,000 has not been recovered. The clients who lost money have beenreimbursed. The Citibank system allows customers to transfer their money toaccounts at other banks. The hackers found a way to crack the system and madeabout 40 transfers of money totaling more than $10 million. The banks controlsystem provided the tip to the fraudulent transactions. At least one of thehackers, who was arrested about a year ago while in San Francisco openingaccounts to receive the money, is helping investigators.Order now
Another personarrested is a Russian computer expert who worked at a Russian software company. Vladimir Levin, head systems operator for AO Saturn, figured out how to getaround Citibanks security system and transfer money out of their accounts. Levin, of St. Petersburg, claims he should not be turned over to Americanauthorities because there is no evidence that any computers in the United Stateswere used in the scheme. The U.
S. government says the funds were all routedthrough Citibanks wire transfer department on Wall Street. The JusticeDepartment wants to charge Levin with conspiracy and fraud. (Source: DelawareCounty Daily Times, 8/21/95)If turned over to American authorities, Levin is subject to ordinarytort law governing fraud. The feeding of false information to a computer andthen using the printouts to deceive the victim comes under tort law. TheElectronic Funds Transfer Act could also be applicable in this situation.
TheEFTA makes it a crime to use any counterfeit, stolen, or fraudulently obtainedcard, code, or other device to obtain money or goods in excess of a specifiedamount through an electronic fund transfer system. The EFTA also makes it acrime to ship such devices of goods that were obtained in interstate commerce,or knowingly to receive goods that have been obtained by means of the fraudulentuse of the transfer system. (Source: Text book)The next two examples involve software piracy, or unauthorized use,copying or sale of computer programs. John Wolfe, an investigator for theBusiness Software Alliance last June recently uncovered a small business engagedin the unlawful installation of computer programs onto personal computers, andthe sale of those computers. TES Computer, of Fairfax VA. was reported to theBSA by several consumers complaining about problems with preinstalled programson their computers.
TES offered very little help with the problems. Wolfeposed as an interested buyer at a local computer show that TES had a stand at. He noticed that TES was offering a standard desktop computer with 63preinstalled programs worth up to $10,000 for a mere $1,395. Also the computerprograms came with no manuals or extra disks, which is a sign that the programswere unregistered. Wolfe later bought a computer from them and examined itclosely, gaining evidence against TES. When confronted by the BSA with alawsuit, TES abruptly emptied its office.
(Source: The Philadelphia Inquirer,8/26/95)The following example involves the popular new software program Windows95. The long awaited program hit stores on Aug. 24 but it has been selling instreet markets and shops in Europe and Asia for months. Robin Burton, Europeanspokesman for the anti-piracy group Business Software Alliance said, We foundthousands of copies of pre-release versions around. Burton added that Windows95 was on almost every CD-ROM we saw in Europe and the Far East.
ChristineSantucci, a Microsoft spokeswoman in Redmond Wash. , said the packages sell verycheap in Hong Kong. Youre basically buying about $20,000 worth of softwarefor $40, she said. (Source: Delaware County Daily Times, 8/23/95)These two incidences involve theft of software. When a thief takessoftware, whether in the form of of a program written on paper or a program on adisk or tape, a situation arises that does not fit into the common lawdefinition of larceny.
This is because larceny at common law was confined tothe taking of tangible property. However virtually every state has amended itsdefinition of larceny or theft so that the stealing software is a crime.(Source: Textbook)Category: Law