CYBERCRIME CASE STUDYBy (Name)The Name of the Class (Course)Professor (Tutor)The Name of the School (University)The City and State where it is locatedThe Date Table of ContentsINTRODUCTION 3Understanding Cybercrime 4The General Theory of Crime 5Case Study: Applying The General Theory of Crime to Feezan Choudhary 8Recommendations 10Conclusion 12References 13 INTRODUCTIONThe advent of the internet age changed the daily lives of almost all the people in the world. It also exposed the world to both positive and negative phenomena that were not known before. The same computer technology that has enabled people to conduct business and social interactions more efficiently has also exposed people to criminals, who do not have to occupy the same physical space as their victims. Computer hackers, online fraudsters, digital pirates and cyber bullies are a reality that criminologists and sociologists have to deal with today (National Audit Office, 2013). Even though cybercrime is a relatively new issue in criminology, most of the traditional theories applied in crimes committed in the physical world can be used to understand cybercriminals. Cases such as malware victimization and cyberbullying can be explored using the routine activity theory, while digital piracy can be examined using both the social learning theory and the general theory of crime. Theories of criminology are quite useful in understanding the source of criminal behaviour, as well as the possible control measures that can be applied to eliminate such vices from the society. According to Kirwan and Power (2013), they identify environmental and personal elements that initiate and encourage criminal behaviour, which eases the process of determining possible perpetrators before they can victimise people. They are not only important in law enforcement, but also in social sciences that seek to identify negative aspects of a community that predispose young individuals to criminal behaviour. This paper aims to explore cybercrime offenses using the general theory of crime. It uses the case of Feezan Choudhary who alongside other 19 people was convicted by a UK court on 20th September 2016 for defrauding over £113 from 750 businesses who were customers of Lloyds, Santander, Barclays and the Royal Bank of Scotland.Understanding CybercrimeThe need to understand criminal behaviour stems from the urge to protect society from offending acts that lead to both personal and collective losses. It is important to identify the behavioural characteristics of individuals who engage in criminal activity to enable social workers, teachers, and parents to eliminate such behaviour before an individual can perform the actual criminal act (Beaver, Barnes and Boutwell, 2014). The growth of cybercrimes in the UK over the last two decades can be traced back to the growth of the internet and its popularity in the banking sector. People who were previously involved in white collar crimes have found a new way of disassociating their physical space from that of their victims, thus giving them a sense of immunity (Holt, Bossler, and Seigfried-Spellar, 2015). They believe that committing crimes online gives them anonymity, which limits their chances of being caught. So far, the only legislation used before 2017 to legislate cybercrimes was the Computer Misuse Act of 1990, which was quite rigid and ineffective given the evolution of cybercrimes over the years (National Audit Office, 2013). In 2016, over 1.9 million cases of cybercrime associated with the UK issued credit and debit cards were reported. They include losses of over 1.1 billion incurred by both individuals and companies in the country. There was a 39% increase of reported cybercrime cases in the year 2017 (National Audit Office, 2013). The crimes reported ranges from the theft of personal data, and compromised elections, to hospitals held to ransom by criminals using some malicious software. The most common cybercrimes include online fraud and digital piracy. Online fraud involves the misrepresentation of a person’s identity in order to gain a victim’s trust. The criminal can seek money directly or seek personal information after gaining a victim’s trust, which is then used to access bank accounts or convince third parties to divulge more information or make payments (Tilley and Sidebottom, 2017). On the other hand, digital piracy involves unauthorised access to digital content, especially intellectual property such as music and patents. The other common cybercrime is malware victimization and hacking, which involves compromising computer systems with the intent of stealing information or malicious damage. Finally, the advent of online social media led to the growth of social vices such as bullying that were once limited to physical interaction. Cyberbullying has become quite common especially among young people and public figures. The General Theory of CrimeAccording to Blackwell and Zhu (2014), crime is the explicit act of force or fraud that is committed with the intention of satisfying one’s self-interest. For any action that a person engages in, there is a consequence. However, some acts have negative consequences on those who are affected even though the person committing the act enjoys positive repercussions. In such cases, the individual enjoys positive outcomes at the expense of others who are left suffering. The ability to identify the nature of consequences before performing an act is inculcated into human thought through social learning and experiences in the course of an individual’s life (Kirwan and Power, 2013). However, most concepts of positive and negative consequences are already known to an individual by the early adolescent. The fact that such principles are learned means that the people in an individual’s environment since birth have the ability and responsibility to teach children how to behave in order to avoid harming other people. Parents are of particular importance in ensuring that their children associate their needs with those of the people in their environment to avoid conflict in the process of satisfying those needs (Holt, Bossler, and Seigfried-Spellar, 2015). In cases, where a child acts to satisfy his or her interest while compromising the interests of the people in the environment are often resolved through punishment. Punishment acts as a negative reinforcement that forces a child to consider the possible consequences before engaging in any act (Blackwell and Zhu, 2014). Unfortunately, not all children are raised by individuals who understand the concepts of punishment and consequences. Already some adults cannot fully comprehend the negative consequences of their actions, which means that they are unable to transfer the knowledge on positive behaviour to the young children in their environment. The general theory of crime identifies the lack of self-control as the primary factor behind an individual’s choice to commit a crime. The theory is based on parenting psychology where the ability of an individual to develop self-control is inculcated into personal behaviour before the age of ten (Tilley and Sidebottom, 2017). The lack of self-control has a direct correlation to impulsive behaviour, which often results in a person engaging in criminal behaviour. Evidence of the general theory of crime is quite common in highly corrupt society were personal gains are celebrated without questioning the process used to achieve those gains. According to Beaver, Barnes, and Boutwell (2014), people who live in a society where lavish living is glorified at the expense of positive behaviour and moral uprightness, are more likely to engage in acts that promote instant self-gratification. Such actions are often criminal because the nature of wealth accumulation requires effort in the form of work. Criminals choose to avoid working because they would have to wait for a long time to accumulate all the wealth required to live the lavish life that they glorify. Six elements of self-control are applicable in identifying an individual’s tendency to engage in criminal behaviour according to the general theory of crime. They include an individual’s impulse control as well as his perception towards that control. People can only avoid impulse behaviour by identifying which of their actions are motivated by a tendency to be impulsive (Moon, McCluskey and Perez, 2010). They can then choose to control such behaviour or act on it, which consequently influences their tendency to engage in criminal behaviour. The second element is the preference for simple rather than complex tasks. People who seek quick gratification do not like to engage in tedious tasks that have long-term benefits (Holt and Bossler, 2015). Unfortunately, there are very few economic activities that provide quick gratification legally. As a result, such people often result in crime. The third is the preference for risk, which is usually coupled with the outright disregard for consequences. The fourth is a preference for physical rather than mental activity, which when combined with low self-control often results in individuals engaging in physical violence in their quest to gain financial or social power (Tilley and Sidebottom, 2017). The fifth is self-centredness, which manifests itself among individuals with low self-control as a total disregard for the interest of other people. Self-centred individuals are more likely to engage in crimes because they are unable to comprehend the suffering that their actions cause in their victims’ lives. They are only concerned with their gains, which are often impossible to satisfy in cases where such individuals suffer from low self-control. Finally, the ability to control one’s temper influences their actions. Individuals who cannot control their temper are likely to make irrational decisions that lead to criminal behaviour (Moon, McCluskey and Perez, 2010). Their actions are also meant to satisfy their temper, which means that they often have short-term positive results and long-term negative results. The general theory of crime identifies that opportunities for criminal activities are always available in the environment (Siegel, 2016). However, it is only the individuals who have low self-control who choose to exploit those opportunities. Therefore, criminal behaviour is not determined by the lack of self-control, but the specific exposure of individuals with low self-control to an opportunity of quick self-gratification (Blackwell and Zhu, 2014). Such individuals are not active criminals who are always seeking victims to exploit. They are often ordinary individuals in the society who happen to come across a situation where their abilities or learned skills are appropriate. They are then unable to comprehend the consequences of their acts, which force them to apply their skills and abilities to satisfy the incessant urge to satisfy their immediate needs (Siegel, 2016). Case Study: Applying The General Theory of Crime to Feezan ChoudharyOnline bank fraud is classified as cybercrime because criminals exploit flaws in the security protocols of online banking systems. It involves the illegal use of another person’s identity on online platforms regardless of how the identity was acquired. On 20th September 2016, Feezan ‘Fizzy’ Choudhary was handed an11 year sentence for fraudulently acquiring £113 million from 750 businesses by posing as a bank official (Camber, 2016). He mastered the security protocols applied by banks when giving their customers remote access to their accounts and exploited the human element required to safeguard passwords. The scam involved calling customers and pretending to be a bank employee who was concerned about the customer’s accounts. He used fancy accents to convince them that he could protect them from imminent loss by claiming that the bank had noticed their accounts were compromised. He targeted businesses that had huge amounts of cash in their bank accounts, as well as unsuspecting employees who controlled their businesses’ online bank accounts. The 750 customers who believed him divulged their passwords, which he used to transfer money within seconds. The money was then laundered through over 100 mules made small electronic transfers to accounts that were as far as Pakistan and Dubai. According to Camber (2016), most of the individuals involved in the crime were in their early and mid-twenties. They were smart enough to figure out the security protocols applied by banks on their online terminals. They also figured out that customers would be more willing to divulge security details such as passwords to a trusted bank official. Finally, they knew the process used by authorities to identify irregular bank transfers, which they used to perfect their money laundering racket. However, their lack of self-control was their undoing. They immediately went on a quick self-gratification spree where they spent the stolen money on fancy clothes and cars. According to the general theory of crime, the lack of self-control influences an individual to use the knowledge they have learned either in school or at home to seek immediate gratification through crime rather than applying it to positive economically viable activities that can help the society at large. According to Camber (2016), the police estimated that Feezan Choudhary got to keep 50% of the £113 million that he stole, while the rest was shared among his accomplices. He would have had to work for more than a decade to accumulate such an amount even through the most lucrative legal means. Cybercriminals identify their knowledge of system security as a privilege that gives them the right to avoid working as hard as other people, thus resulting in theft.The fact that his brother was also involved in the scam as his personal accountant shows that they were raised in an environment where there were no consequences for theft. In such cases, the individual believes that for as long as he is perceived as successful in the community no one will question the source of his ill-gotten wealth. They grew up in a society where being talented or smart was only valued for as long as it resulted in significant wealth. That was quite evident in the activities they were involved in after accessing their victims’ money. Most of the victims interviewed by the police identified that Feezan was an eloquent individual who seemed to understand the systems adopted by banks when managing the online activities of their customers. They sought to live a fancy life that gave the illusion of success even though it was financed by the hard work done by other people. Individuals who have low self-control tend to be impulsive and reckless, which encourages them to take advantage of opportunities that allow them to satisfy their short-term needs. The general theory of crime can be applied in this case to explain the impulsive and irrational spending of the perpetrators immediately after accessing their victims’ money. The lack of self-control identified in the general theory of crime is also evident in the extent of their criminal activities. Feezan was not interested in satisfying his basic needs. He wanted even more and believed that for as long as he could still access the online terminals used by Lloyds, Santander, Barclays and the Royal Bank of Scotland, he was entitled to more money (Camber, 2016). He would have stolen more money from customers’ accounts if the authorities had not caught up with his criminal activities. The basic understanding of theft among all adults and almost all children is the irregular acquisition of property that belongs to another person. In this case, Feezan convinced two sisters, Amy and Emma Daramola who worked in one of the banks, to provide him with the account numbers of high-value businesses. The sisters understood the consequences of their actions and negotiated a higher fee of £250 from the £50 that Feezan offered them for each account (Camber, 2016). They opted to ruin a promising career in banking for a couple of holidays and fashion items. The blatant publicity that they sought was a testament to their total disregards of any consequences that would result from the exposure of their crimes. They were more interested in showing off their ill-gotten gains than covering up their criminal activity. RecommendationsThe Feezan Choudhary case is instrumental in understanding low self-control in the presence of opportunity. The fact that internet technology is still young means that there are still a lot of loopholes that are not well understood, which can be exploited by criminals. In as much as companies, especially banks can invest in superior security systems, the criminal element inherent in the society will always find ways of exploiting unsuspecting users of their software and online platforms. It is, therefore, important to change social perspectives on talent and abilities to represent social growth rather than personal gratification. Parents, teachers and social workers have to be involved in inculcating positive behaviour in young children, which will allow them to grow up to be responsible adults who act with integrity (Holt and Bossler, 2015). The ability to control one’s behaviour stems from the understanding of consequences. People who were socialised without any regard for consequences from a young age are less likely to identify repercussions even in adulthood. According to the general theory of crime, the prevalence of crime in low-income neighbourhoods is often precipitated by the fact that there are fewer adults in such family settings who can punish young delinquents. Therefore, children grow up knowing that they can do anything as long as it fulfils their immediate desires. The general theory of crime identifies that self-control is long-term, while the lack of it is represented by a short-term lapse in judgement as one seeks immediate results (Moon, McCluskey and Perez, 2010). The ability to identify consequences associated with a specific act allows an individual to commit to the long-term action of self-control. Self-control can only be taught through an understanding of consequences. It is up to each person in the society to ensure that everyone is aware of the consequences of their actions. So far, the UK legal system has always guaranteed that criminals who engage in cybercrime get to suffer the consequences of their crimes. However, the most effective form of education on self-control can only be offered by parents to their children while they are still young. The police realised that the money laundering network that Feezan had set up to ensure that the massive amount of money he transferred remained undetected was quite intricate. It was an indication of an individual who was clearly smart, who sought to use his superior knowledge of banking systems to engage in criminal activities. He might have grown to become a renowned banker in the country who could have contributed positively to banking systems security had he practiced self-control.ConclusionThe ability to exercise self-control is informed by an understanding of the consequences of specific acts. Even though each action may be different, the premise used in identifying impacts is often the same. People have to understand both the negative and positive outcomes of an act, as well as the people it affects. Most crimes involve actions that lead to positive outcomes for the primary individual while having negative results for secondary individuals, who are commonly identified as victims. Cybercrimes allow criminals to exploit online platforms to target unsuspecting individuals through malware victimization, hacking servers, and accounts, online fraud, digital piracy or cyberbullying. The inculcation of positive moral values into a child’s psychology, while he or she is still young, should help encourage self-control and consequently reduce cases of cybercrime. ReferencesBeaver, K., Barnes, J. and Boutwell, B., 2014. The Nurture Versus Biosocial Debate in Criminology: On the Origins of Criminal Behavior and Criminality, New York: SAGE Publications.Blackwell, C. and Zhu, H., 2014. Cyberpatterns: Unifying Design Patterns with Security and Attack Patterns, New York: Springer. Camber, R., 2016. Fraud Ring Boss Gang Stole £113 Million from UK Firms. 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Criminology: The Core, Upper Saddle River: Cengage Learning.Tilley, N. and Sidebottom, A., 2017. Handbook of Crime Prevention and Community Safety, New York: Taylor & Francis.