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With the development and spread of metaverses open to the public, criminology could face a new challenge. From the point of view of criminology, metaverses can be looked at from three different perspectives: First, there is the question whether metaverses open new dimensions to the already known Internet criminality. Looking at this more thoroughly, there is the danger of a quantitative increase of criminality in the Internet, but only low potential for the development of completely new forms of criminality. Second, virtual worlds can be regarded as separate societies for which the effects of deviant behaviour can be analysed by criminology, this resulting in severe conceptual and methodical problems. The findings of criminology in the real world can hardly be applied to the conditions of the virtual world. Finally, the use of virtual worlds could have feedback effects on the users in their real life. By imparting certain values and attitudes, the (excessive) occupation with virtual worlds could have effects on the behaviour in the real society. This question can so far hardly be answered and should be the object of further research.
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Crime Potential of Metaverses
Christian Laue
Abstract With the development and spread of metaverses open to the public,
criminology could face a new challenge. From the point of view of criminology,
metaverses can be looked at from three different perspectives: First, there is the
question whether metaverses open new dimensions to the already known Internet
criminality. Looking at this more thoroughly, there is the danger of a quantitative
increase of criminality in the Internet, but only low potential for the development of
completely new forms of criminality. Second, virtual worlds can be regarded as
separate societies for which the effects of deviant behaviour can be analysed by
criminology, this resulting in severe conceptual and methodical problems. The
findings of criminology in the real world can hardly be applied to the conditions
of the virtual world. Finally, the use of virtual worlds could have feedback effects
on the users in their real life. By imparting certain values and attitudes, the
(excessive) occupation with virtual worlds could have effects on the behaviour in
the real society. This question can so far hardly be answered and should be the
object of further research.
1 Introduction
A Metaverse – a term usually attributed to Neal Stephenson’s novel “Snow Crash” –
denotes a social virtual world. In this lecture, I will be looking at the “crime potential
of Metaverses” in three different ways. The first question to ask is: To what extent do
Metaverses open new dimensions of cyber crime? Do new opportunities for criminal
activity result from Metaverses, whether quantitatively or even qualitatively? In this
context, Metaverses must be considered and categorised as part of cyber crime. They
C. Laue (*)
Institute of Criminology, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany
e-mail: laue@krimi.uni-heidelberg.de
K. Cornelius and D. Hermann (eds.), Virtual Worlds and Criminality,
DOI 10.1007/978-3-642-20823-2_2, #Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011
19
are thus regarded as part of existing cyber crime or as part of cyber crime that still
needs to be developed.
Second, Metaverses can be seen as individual little societies in which deviating
behaviour can lead to certain effects, which are comparable to the disturbances and
irritations caused by criminality in real society. The question is whether deviating
behaviour – which has to be defined as criminal – can lead to similar effects in
Metaverses as crime does in real society. The consideration of social virtual worlds
may even allow conclusions to be drawn about the causes and effects of crime in
real society. Thus, Metaverses could be regarded as laboratories of real criminol-
ogy: an attractive idea for every criminologist. In the following, I would like to call
this the “criminology of Metaverses”.
While, in the first part of the lecture, Metaverses are viewed from the outside as
separable parts of the Internet and, in the second part, from the inside as individual
societies, it would only be logical to conclude by highlighting the links between the
virtual and the real worlds. The issue that concerns us here is the knock-on effects
that virtual worlds have on the real lives of users and how these can influence their
behaviour in the real world. It is likely that virtual worlds convey certain attitudes
and skills to their users as well as shortcomings that influence their real behaviour.
2 From the Outside: Metaverses as a New Challenge
for Cyber Crime
Criminology, especially German criminology, has thus far paid little attention to
cyber crime. When you look through the major German general literature on penal
law, it is striking that the keyword “cyber crime” often does not feature at all (see
G
oppinger 2008). Only short papers can be found, such as the one by Eisenberg,
who treats cyber crime as a manifestation of economic crime. For him, cyber crimes
or multimedia crimes are “those criminally relevant acts that are committed using
data networks (especially the Internet)” (Eisenberg 2005, Sect. 47 marginal no. 69).
There are hardly any other publications on cyber crime. This is astonishing since
every year the Police Crime Statistics report highlights the rise in Internet-related
crime. The Ministers of the Interior of the German federal states are convinced that
the Internet offers great potential for crime [see, e.g., the Federal German Minister
of the Interior, Wolfgang Sch
auble (2007), during the opening of the BKA-Confer-
ence (German Federal Bureau of Investigations) “Tatort Internet” in 2007].
The “Polizeiliche Kriminalstatistik (PKS)” (German Police Crime Statistics) –
usually taken as an initial guide to gain an overview of the extent and development
of the overall number of crimes or types of offenses – has reported a separate
category, “computer crime”, since 1987. This category comprises a number of
criminal acts for which the use of a computer is required or is at least helpful to
carry them out. The term “computer crime” is based on criminal law and does not
report cyber crime as a separate category.
20 C. Laue
For our purposes, however, the PKS is of minor importance only, since the
collective term “computer crime” includes hardly any cyber crimes, but rather fraud
offences (such as computer fraud according to Sect. 263a StGB (German Criminal
Code) or fraud by means of PIN cards obtained illegally).
Nevertheless, the PKS at least provides a rough overview of the development of
cyber crime. In 2009, 74,911 computer offences were recorded in Germany, which
is 1.2% of the total number of offences (6,054,330). In the first 15 years in which
computer crimes have been recorded separately, the absolute figures of offences
recorded have increased 26 times to almost 80,000 in 2001. Although the German
reunification has to be taken into consideration, the rise is nevertheless constant,
which is hardly surprising as, during these years, the computer has become indis-
pensable in globalised society. It is much more amazing that there has been no
further rise in computer crime from 2001 onwards, but rather stagnation. This is
very remarkable, especially in the context described here, since the Internet has
become extremely widespread during this period. In Europe, the number of Internet
users has risen from 106 million at the end of 2000 to 385 million in 2008
(according to Internet World Stats 2009) (Fig. 1).
2.1 Types of Cyber Crime
Following David Wall (Wall 2001), four types of cyber crime in particular are
identified internationally:
(a) “Cyber trespass”: Trespassing on and/or damaging another person’s computer,
e.g. by “hacking” or sending viruses.
(b) “Cyber thefts/deception”: Theft of material and also immaterial resources
through piracy as well as credit card fraud via the Internet. Now famous is
Fig. 1 Computer Crimes from 1987 to 2009. Source: BKA (German Federal Bureau of Investi-
gation, edt.): Polizeiliche Kriminalstatistik 1987–2009
Crime Potential of Metaverses 21
the so-called “scam” or advance fee fraud, where the scammers pretend to
transfer vast sums of money from Third World Countries– first by ordinary
mail, later – in extended version – by e-mail. This kind of fraud promises the
receipt of a huge commission after acceptance of a large sum of money;
the victim has, however, been persuaded to make advance payments. Since
this kind of fraud originated in Nigeria in particular, and Nigeria has reacted by
implementing its own penal law (Sect. 419 of the Nigerian Penal Code), it is
also called the “419 scam”. This type of crime has increased significantly
through the use of the Internet.
Another kind of Internet fraud – in a non-technical sense of the term – is
“phishing”. Faked e-mails prompt the victim to reveal sensitive data, especially
bank details, which the offenders can use to gain access to the victim’s fortune.
(c) “Cyber pornography/obscenity”: The Internet provides various new ways of
transmitting and selling pornography. It is estimated that 2–12% of all websites
have pornographic content. Child pornography is especially problematic as the
Internet is excellently suited to the cheap production, circulation and transmis-
sion of pornographic images of children. The market for child pornography has
been significantly expanded by the Internet and is difficult to control. It may be
assumed that the Internet has considerably promoted the worldwide sexual
abuse of children, since the market for its distribution has become much bigger.
(d) “Cyber violence”: This term comprises all forms of psychic damage or incite-
ment to physical damage – known as Internet stalking and cyber bullying.
There is one form of cyber crime that can be subsumed under cyber aggression
and to which special attention is given in Germany: content-related Internet crime.
Especially due to the punishability of the “Auschwitzl
uge” (Auschwitz Lie)
according to Sect. 130 of the German Criminal Code – an element of a crime that
only exists in a handful of countries – statements/comments are punishable in
Germany which, in other countries, are covered by the freedom of opinion. This
shows that cyber crime can really have regional references.
2.2 New Dimensions of Cyber Crime by Metaverses?
The situation outlined above raises the question: What new opportunities for
criminal activity do Metaverses provide?
(a) Cyber trespass
The danger of cyber trespass is probably not increased any more through the
participation in virtual worlds than it is through the general use of the Internet.
(b) Cyber theft/deception
There are probably various new opportunities for cyber theft and cyber deception in
social virtual worlds like Second Life, where business is conducted using currencies
22 C. Laue
that can be changed into real money. According to Sect. 263 StGB, it is a punishable
fraud if someone knowingly sells a virtual object that in fact does not correspond to
the requirements agreed upon or assumed upon purchase. The Internet is an
enormous temptation for dishonest traders, since the impression of anonymity
and non-apprehendability is given by the ability to hide behind user names or
avatars. In fact, the access requirements to the Internet in many cases allow people
to log in with an invented identity.
The potential theft of virtual objects is much more difficult to judge from a legal
point of view and is also a new kind of offence, which is only conceivable in a
social virtual world. The aim of Second Life is that users buy objects, such as shoes,
to adorn their avatar and create a unique external appearance. These objects must be
paid for with Linden Dollars and are thus property of the buyer. Where there is
property, there are also potential thieves. If one avatar takes the objects bought by
another avatar, this is, however, not fraud in the sense of Sect. 242 StGB, since this
element of an offence presupposes the removal of a movable object, i.e. a physical
object. The shoes bought in Second Life are, however, not physical objects, but
rather virtual objects, i.e. immaterial pixels. They can only be “taken away” by
programme manipulations. Such behaviour would be criminally relevant as com-
puter fraud/deception according to Sect. 263a StGB, assuming an unauthorised
action on a computer programme – this would be the criminal relevance in the real
world. In the virtual world, however, it would be theft, since one avatar takes away
a thing from another avatar. We have to bear in mind that such an act – the virtual
“theft” – is only possible in a virtual world in which the users can own property. In
this respect, it is possible that Metaverses bring about new forms of criminal
behaviour.
Cyber currencies in virtual worlds are only a quantitatively new dimension,
although, supposedly, a very large one. Metaverses offering economic activity with
a currency of its own that can be exchanged into real money are an invitation for
money laundering. It is, however, questionable whether the economic system in
Second Life will really be a central point of contact for money launderers. The
Internet is already an ideal place for laundering illegal money (see Rederer 2000).
Cyber currency, numerous business opportunities and an almost free choice of
location already offer everything to disguise money laundering and to make it
almost uncontrollable. Second Life could play a certain role in the circuits required
for this because it offers all the ingredients for money laundering. However, it is not
sufficient to be just an entrepreneur in Second Life to legalise illegal money without
control. The large amount of publicity Second Life has experienced should lead to
closer monitoring of any attempts to launder money there. Second Life could be
another field of activity, but only one among many offered by the Internet.
Metaverses are not generally expected to lead to a qualitatively new dimension of
money laundering.
(c) Cyber pornography/obscenity
Social Metaverses offer new ways of distributing pornographic images. In 2007,
Second Life ran into problems because individual users had designed avatars that
Crime Potential of Metaverses 23
looked like children and these were presented in pornographic images, which is
punishable according to Sect. 184b StGB. There is no restriction of punishability
due to the fact that these images are only fictitious for, according to general opinion,
the term child-pornographic publications according to Sect. 184b StGB includes
fictitious images, too (Kusch 2000). The virtual child pornographic images with
avatars as subjects and objects were presented extensively – especially in Germany
– in the media and Second Life came under great deal of pressure.
It was also easy to buy real, i.e. non-fictitious child pornographic images by
e-mail from Second Life users and to pay for these with Linden Dollars. Some of
the members use the opportunities for business activity provided by Linden Lab to
disseminate child pornographic images. This can be seen at least as a quantitative
extension of the possibilities of the Internet.
The distribution of pornographic publications to minors, which is punishable
according to Sect. 184 StGB, is also problematic. Second Life does not have any
effective age controls, which means that minors can easily log in. It is thus
relatively easy for them to consume the pornographic images offered by Second
Life. However, the virtual worlds do not extend the possibilities already offered by
the Internet on websites such as “www.youporn.com”, which have no effective age
controls either.
To sum up, it can be said that social virtual worlds in particular present new ways
of distributing pornography, especially with regard to the fictitious presentation of
child pornography. This is, however, not a qualitatively new distribution channel.
Instead, Second Life, for example, offers an additional distribution channel via the
Internet. Indeed, Second Life is not primarily a pornographic site; the main focus is
still on other content. Sexuality and pornography are just part of a very large
spectrum of possible content in virtual worlds. There is, however, a danger that
pornographic distribution possibilities are concealed within the Second Life world
where, on the one hand, potentially many users can be reached and where, on the
other hand, the investigation authorities have very little control. The operators of
virtual worlds should make it their mission to reduce such misuse. Very often, the
police’s hands are tied in this respect (Report Mainz (ARD) broadcast of 7 May
2007).
(d) Cyber violence
For some people, the Internet has become an important social space. It not only
provides information, knowledge and entertainment, but also the possibility to
make social contacts. It is reported that the social contacts of some people are
even reduced exclusively to the Internet. It is therefore not surprising that this
development also leads to aggression and social violence.
The fate of the 13-year-old Megan Meier, who committed suicide in October
2006 after having been abandoned by her assumed, but fictitious Internet love,
became well-known all over the world. This fictitious Internet character called
“Josh Evans” had been created by a former schoolmate and her mother
and neighbour of the victim’s family in the Internet chat room “MySpace”, and
succeeded in charming Megan completely. In order to humiliate her, Josh one day
24 C. Laue
finished the relationship with nasty insults and exposed her on the Internet. Megan
was unable to cope with this and hung herself that afternoon. In November 2008,
the then 49-year-old mother of the schoolmate was sentenced for computer fraud by
an American Federal Court because she had logged herself in at “MySpace” with a
false name. Meanwhile, Missouri has passed new legislation concerning cyber
bullying, which sets an example for other legal systems.
The fact that this case did not happen in a Metaverse, but in the well-known and
widespread “MySpace” shows that this kind of bullying is not reduced to virtual
worlds, but was already possible in the existing Internet. It is precisely in this
respect, however, that a social virtual world such as Second Life opens up many
possibilities. The “ingredients” for such bullying all exist in Second Life: the
establishment of social contacts among virtual characters is the declared aim of
Second Life. It seems clear that the exploitation of the difference in authority – as in
the case of Megan Meier: a grown-up offender and a minor victim – is obvious and
even encouraged. But this is a general danger of the Internet and its possibilities to
make, but also to abuse social contacts.
It is worth mentioning two similar cases from Germany here: On March 30,
2009, the so-called “Chat room Murderer” Christian G. was sentenced to life
imprisonment. He had met women via the Internet and then met up with them in
the real world, causing the death of two of these women. At first glance, it seems
doubtful that these offences are really caused by the Internet. However, when you
read that the accused had virtually no social contacts in real life and that he was only
able to make contacts by creating a second – virtual – existence, the opportunity to
make social contacts via the Internet is perhaps not a sufficient condition for the
offence, but is a necessary one.
This becomes clearer when you consider the famous case of the “cannibal of
Rotenburg”, Armin Meiwes. In February 2001, he killed and ate a man he had met
via the Internet and who had given his consent to being killed and mutilated. In this
case, it is difficult to imagine that the offender and consenting victim would ever
have met outside the Internet. Here too, the Internet seems to have been a necessary
condition for the offence. There is some controversy as to whether it makes sense to
count such a case as a cyber crime. It is characteristic in each case that the offenders
would hardly have come into contact with their later victims without the help of the
Internet. In the case of the “cannibal”, the Internet offered the extremely low
probability of meeting a consenting victim. The range of potential social contacts
was significantly widened by the Internet. In the case of the “chat room murderer”,
he was able to construct a virtual identity, which deviated from his real identity, and
thus make himself much more attractive to real contacts.
Metaverses also offer the opportunity to construct virtual identities – this is even
their objective to a large extent. However, Metaverses are not a new dimension of
the Internet for committing crimes since – as shown by the two cases above – these
possibilities already exist on the Internet.
Social virtual worlds, however, pose another challenge for a criminological
discussion. On the one hand, there is the criminologically relevant behaviour of
Crime Potential of Metaverses 25
the users in the virtual world, and on the other hand, possible repercussions between
the use of a virtual world and behaviour in the real world.
3 Metaverses from the Inside: Criminological Research
Some virtual worlds, especially Second Life, regard themselves as a separate
society offering their users an individual social field of activity that should be as
similar as possible to real society. Users can make social contacts, they can invest,
found enterprises, have economic success, they can be creative or – more passively
– enjoy their spare time and travel or just use artistic or entertainment programmes.
In such an environment, there is always the possibility that individuals show
deviant behaviour and thus damage other individual avatars/users or the virtual
community as a whole. This socially damaging behaviour could be described as
criminal.
Social virtual worlds are seemingly opening up unforeseen possibilities for
criminological research: Would it not be possible to conduct criminological
research e.g. in Second Life – a relatively manageable area compared to the real
world – and then draw conclusions on criminological relationships in the real
world? Second Life as a kind of a social laboratory, which – on human rights
grounds – would not be possible in the real world; a field of experiments just to
answer criminological questions?
If Second Life is an image of real society in virtual space, the same mechanisms
and social laws must surely apply as in real life. Criminologists could then conduct
their research in a manageable framework and, e.g., empirically verify the well-
known theories on the origins of crime in the laboratory situation of virtual space.
This is a tempting idea. A closer look at this, however, reveals three counter-
arguments.
3.1 The Problem of Measuring Crime in Metaverses
It is probably very difficult to measure the number of crimes in virtual worlds. In the
real world, crime statistics give us a rough idea of the extent and development of
crimes – despite all the reservations against them. These statistics form an indis-
pensable basis for numerous research projects and they do not exist in the virtual
world. It would, of course, be possible to interview the users, and this would
correspond to the interviews of so-called “dark field” research. These would have
to be modified – the intensity of the use of the virtual world would, e.g., have to be
measured since Second Life users are only part-time users, whereas citizens of the
real world are always citizens. Details on offenders or victims would have to be put
into relation to the extent and use of the virtual world. This obstacle, however, could
be overcome.
26 C. Laue
3.2 The Problem of Crime Definition in Metaverses
What does crime in the virtual world really mean? This question is much more
difficult to answer. The question of how to define a crime adequately is a problem
not satisfactorily solved in criminology and is one that might perhaps never be
solved. There is a formal notion of “crime” in criminology: crime is a behaviour
defined as criminal by the legal system. Judging crime in the virtual world is
compounded by even more problems, since such a formal evaluation is impossible.
Second Life itself deliberately avoids regulating the behaviour of its avatars. Thus,
the only option would be to recourse to the national or international legal systems of
the real world. This would inevitably result in different assessments/evaluations,
since e.g. the “Auschwitz Lie” of Sect. 130d StGB – a very important offence
concerning the German legal assessment of the Internet – would hardly have a
counterpart in other countries and would thus be of no relevance for other
researchers. The international comparability of possible results would be very
limited.
There would only be a small number of offences that could be examined
sensibly. As already mentioned, a theft in the virtual world – by far the most
frequently committed offence in the real world – would be computer fraud in the
real world. Finally, most of the deviant behaviour which, in the real world, is an
element of a crime of the core criminal law – theft, robbery, damage to property,
arson, rape, bodily injury or homicide – can only be reduced to a computer offence:
computer fraud, modification of data, or computer sabotage.
3.3 The Problem of Crime Effects in Metaverses
Finally, we must take a look at the persons in question, or rather the avatars. It is
questionable whether deviant behaviour in virtual worlds can really lead to such
social damage as in the real world. The possibilities of victimisation are already
significantly reduced: a homicide or murder offence is hardly conceivable in
Metaverses, since it is a characteristic of a virtual world that every participant has
a number of or even an unlimited number of lives. If an avatar loses its life – and
this happens very often in many online games – it cannot really be regarded as the
victim; this is at least not remotely comparable to victimisation in the real world.
Thus, potential crimes in virtual worlds lose much of their threatening effect.
There could be effects in the area of fraud or virtual theft. The economic activity
promoted by Second Life could really be brought to a standstill if acts of fraud were
carried out on a massive scale, because honest entrepreneurs would lose interest. An
effective control would be necessary here, and it could be interesting for crimino-
logical research to observe how order could be brought to a world with a self-
selected lack of rules.
Crime Potential of Metaverses 27
This, however, only touches on a small portion of crime; the types of crimes that
are particularly important to the real general public hardly play a role in virtual
worlds.
You also encounter problems when you consider the offenders. When an avatar
is insulted, who is the offender? Who must be punished – in as far as it is hoped that
punishment will have any effect at all? And, if the avatar is punished – there might
be the possibility of sending him to a virtual prison – who would actually be
affected by the punishment? Ultimately, the user behind the avatar is responsible
and only he can feel the punishment. This means there is no punishment for the
behaviour of the avatar but only for the behaviour of the person sitting in front of the
computer.
Thus, the view of the virtual world as an autonomous society is, in most cases,
inadequate. Only in cases where real social acts are directly transferred to the
virtual world – especially with regard to commerce in Second Life – can real social
findings be transferred to the virtual world.
4 Repercussions of Metaverses on Reality
The third interesting problem for criminology concerns how the use of virtual
worlds affects the behaviour of users in the real world.
I will only touch on this briefly here, since the following lectures will go into
more detail. Concerning the question of the effects of Internet use, a possible
increase in the willingness to use violence – after numerous relevant cases – is at
the focal point of criminology and also criminal policy. A number of violent acts at
American and European schools seem to have been inspired by computer games; it
is, however, doubtful whether these are to be attributed to Metaverses. This will
certainly become clearer in the following lectures.
Less obvious is the possibility that Metaverses which, in many cases, are a
monopolising social counter-world, are able to create and care for values and
attitudes among their users. There are reports about people spending more time in
virtual worlds and on the Internet than in real society whose social contacts are
concentrated on the Internet, in short, people who spend more time with avatars
than with human beings. These replacement worlds could tend to create their own
values and norms. If these values and norms are contrary to the values and norms of
real society, subcultures emerge. And if these socials worlds have an influence on
their users, it may be possible that they will take the values and norms of the virtual
world and apply them to the real world. This and the resulting conflict between the
norms and values of virtual society and those of real society could influence the
behaviour of the users and, probably, also increase crime. So far, little research has
been conducted in this field, although it could prove to be worthwhile.
28 C. Laue
5 Summary
In summary: The existence of Metaverses does not call for new criminology.
A qualitatively new dimension of crime is possible only in marginal areas; in
most cases, Metaverses simply provide new fields of investigation for the now
well-known cyber crimes. There remains, however, inadequate research in this field
in Germany.
References
Bundeskriminalamt (2009) Polizeiliche Kriminalstatistik Bundesrepublik Deutschland.
Berichtsjahr 2008. Bundeskriminalamt Wiesbaden
Eisenberg U (2005) Kriminologie. Beck, M
unchen
G
oppinger H (2008) Kriminologie. Beck, M
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Internet World Stats (2009) http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm. Accessed 30 Jun 2011
Kusch R (2000) Aus der Rechtsprechung des BGH zum Strafverfahrensrecht. Neue Zeitschrift f
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Strafrecht Rechtsprechungsreport:289–320
Rederer E (2000) Geldw
asche mit Cybermoney. Oder: Wie tradierte Bek
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wertlos werden. Kriminalistik. Unabh
angige Z kriminalistische Wissenschaft Prax 54:261–269
Report Mainz ARD (2007) “Second Life.” Tummelplatz f
ur Kinderpornografie, 7 May 2007.
http://de.youtube.com/watch?v¼Wk8uNWF77gg. Accessed 16 Mar 2010
Sch
auble W (2007) Tatort Internet – eine globale Herausforderung f
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2007/11/bm_bka_herbsttagung.html. Accessed 16 Mar 2010
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London
Crime Potential of Metaverses 29
http://www.springer.com/978-3-642-20822-5
... This section of classification dwelt on articles that discussed theft of material and also immaterial resources through piracy as well as credit card fraud via the Internet (Laue, 2011). Issues discussed in papers under this theme included advance fee fraud (Dobovšek, Lamberger, & Slak, 2013), banking fraud (Carminati, Caron, Maggi, Epifani, & Zanero, 2015;van der Meulen, 2013), credit card fraud (Li, Chen, & Nunamaker Jr, 2016;Papadopoulos & Brooks, 2011;Yogi Prabowo, 2011. ...
Chapter
Technological advancements have transformed the way people go about their daily lives. However, this development is not without unintended consequences, as cyber-criminals have also devised ways to gain leverage. The authors conducted a literature review on 106 articles across 40 journals to bring to fore cybercrime studies that have been conducted according to the research themes, methodological approaches, level of analysis, geographical focus, and publication outlets. Themes identified in the review were categorized under an existing typology of cybercrime: cyber-trespass, cyber-deception/theft, cyber-pornography and obscenity, and cyber-violence. This review suggested two main directions for future research in terms of socio-technical and theoretical approaches with five research questions. The originality of this review stems from the fact that it is arguably one of the first reviews that have reviewed cybercrime from a holistic perspective.
... This section of classification dwelt on articles that discussed theft of material and also immaterial resources through piracy as well as credit card fraud via the Internet (Laue, 2011). Issues discussed in papers under this theme included advance fee fraud (Dobovšek, Lamberger, & Slak, 2013), banking fraud (Carminati, Caron, Maggi, Epifani, & Zanero, 2015;van der Meulen, 2013), credit card fraud (Li, Chen, & Nunamaker Jr, 2016;Papadopoulos & Brooks, 2011;Yogi Prabowo, 2011. ...
Chapter
Technological advancements have transformed the way people go about their daily lives. However, this development is not without unintended consequences, as cyber-criminals have also devised ways to gain leverage. The authors conducted a literature review on 106 articles across 40 journals to bring to fore cybercrime studies that have been conducted according to the research themes, methodological approaches, level of analysis, geographical focus, and publication outlets. Themes identified in the review were categorized under an existing typology of cybercrime: cyber-trespass, cyber-deception/theft, cyber-pornography and obscenity, and cyber-violence. This review suggested two main directions for future research in terms of socio-technical and theoretical approaches with five research questions. The originality of this review stems from the fact that it is arguably one of the first reviews that have reviewed cybercrime from a holistic perspective.
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Online markets in cryptocurrency represent a sprawling and eclectic alternative financial system, selling cutting edge techno-investment schemes that are complex and high risk. Crime control is almost entirely absent from this new crypto economy, and it is full of scams. This paper draws on an ethnography of crypto trading to review the main types of scam, suggesting that the grey economy of cryptocurrency trading is part of a wider evolution of society towards the technosocial, and beyond that perhaps towards the metaversal.
Chapter
All preceding chapters of this treatise has been concerned with the problem of cyberlaundering and how to combat it. Like other technological advancements, a problem of the magnitude of cyberlaundering characterizes these modern times, defining the extent of modern technology. What is alarming about cyberlaundering is that it continues to elude understanding. This is partly because it is not subject to any regulatory framework. There is also no clear-cut method on how to go about prosecuting cases of cyberlaundering. Despite its increasing prevalence, cyberlaundering has not prompted intervention on the side of the authorities concerned, notwithstanding its damaging effects on the economy, both nationally and internationally. Existing laws, without being adapted, are ill-suited for use against cyberlaundering. This chapter thus concludes the discussion on the legal regulation of cyberlaundering. It reiterates the triple-pillar combat strategy, and offers additional recommendations which serve to further the anti-cyberlaundering (ACL) campaign.
Chapter
This chapter investigates the concept of cyberlaundering and attempts to deconstruct the concept legally (See Leslie (2010, Chap. 3)). Bearing in mind that cyberlaundering borders the fields of money laundering and cyber crime, the chapter starts off by investigating the rationale behind the advent of cyberlaundering. Furthermore, this chapter attempts to understand and categorize cyberlaundering as a legal concept. This chapter also delves further into some technical aspects of cyberlaundering by assessing the ‘tools’ used for cyberlaundering, in the form of electronic payment systems, which are conducive to the commission of the crime. One needs to understand this at the outset in order to fully grasp the different methods and techniques used by criminals on the internet. This enables one to get an idea of what cyberlaundering might look like in the future. The latter is important for two primary reasons: First, given that the understanding of the cyberlaundering phenomenon is limited, it would be useful to describe the current trend, in order to understand aspects of cyberlaundering better. Secondly, knowing the direction in which the cyberlaundering wind is blowing helps to devise the regulatory legal framework to minimize the dangers it poses.
Chapter
Cyberlaundering refers to the way in which the mechanism of the internet is used to launder illegal proceeds of crime in order to make such proceeds appear clean. The advent of the internet has yielded this new breed of crime. On the internet, there are various avenues exploited by criminals to convert ‘dirty’ money into ‘clean’ money (Prevalent avenues, amongst a host of others, include online banking, online gambling, e-gaming, online auctioning and digital payments methods. These methods will be further explained in detail subsequently). What has been understood as money laundering in the past is not necessarily the case anymore. Money laundering now wears the cloak of cyberlaundering, because criminals today are one step ahead of the law. New ways are constantly being devised to evade the prying eyes of law enforcement, hence the shift to cyberlaundering. This chapter lays the foundation for the core of this study, embodied in the subsequent chapters that follow. The chapter begins by establishing the importance of the study; the significance and rationale for the study. More importantly, the chapter identifies money laundering and cyber crime as the fundamental two phenomenons that have birthed cyberlaundering. It explores these two disciplines separately in order to solidify a foundational understanding of cyberlaundering, with a view to its legal regulation.
Chapter
Regulation is a critical and highly relevant factor in establishing a legal framework to combat cyberlaundering. The need for regulation forms the crux of the anti-cyberlaundering (ACL) legal regime. This chapter is dedicated to finding appropriate regulatory measures for cyberlaundering. As a starting point, it outlines the rationale that underscores the task of regulating cyberlaundering, after which it discusses certain issues that pose as barriers to its regulation. The chapter looks at how cyberlaundering can be combatted by adapting some of the existing apparatus that exists to deal with money laundering. This approach is employed for founding the necessary pillars for the ACL legal regime, such as the prevention, enforcement and compliance pillars. These pillars, which presently make up the current anti-money laundering (AML) legal regime, can be adapted to suit purposes of the needed anti-cyberlaundering (ACL) legal regime. However, in this chapter, the regulatory possibilities in relation to the prevention and compliance pillars alone are considered. The enforcement pillar, which concerns prosecutorial issues related to cyberlaundering, is discussed separately in the next chapter of this study, (See Chapter 5 that follows.) along with certain technicalities involved in establishing an ACL legal regime. In addition to examining the existing AML pillars, where applicable, certain anti-cyber crime (ACC) principles are also considered as possible solutions.
Chapter
This chapter deals with the enforcement pillar of the anti-cyberlaundering (ACL) legal regime. Much like the preceding chapters of this study that attempt to pave an untreaded path in the law and unravel a novel issue currently unexplored, this chapter takes the ACL campaign a step further by exploring legal ramifications pertaining to the prosecution of cyberlaundering. It completes the discussion on the pillars of the ACL legal regime, and complements the prevention and compliance pillars discussed in the preceding chapter. The chapter begins by identifying certain important issues and challenges that come with the prosecution of cyberlaundering. Under the enforcement pillar, this chapter discusses investigative and jurisdictional issues, borrowing from similar principles falling under the current anti-money laundering (AML) legal regime. In establishing the enforcement pillar, this chapter also follows the adaptive approach to regulating cyberlaundering, as posited in the preceding chapter. Given that the current AML legal regime does not cater for this, the adaptive approach employed here also requires a probe into how current anti-cyber crime (ACC) laws can be adopted, as the prosecution of cyberlaundering cases does not only require the mind of money laundering investigators, but also cyber forensic experts who have tactical intelligence on hi-tech criminality, such as cyberlaundering demands. This chapter further discusses recent case studies that provide evidence of the urgent need for a proper ACL prosecutorial policy. Certain technical issues or formalities involved in establishing the ACL legal regime complete the discussion on the enforcement pillar.
Chapter
The stand against money laundering has come a long a way since ways were conceived on how to combat this kind of economic crime. More than ever before, there is a need to fortify existing barricades, and with the advent of cyberlaundering, create new ones. This chapter embroiders on the legal relationship between money laundering and cyberlaundering, otherwise known as the ‘branch and stem’ relationship, discussed in the preceding chapter. To reiterate, cyberlaundering is an extension of money laundering and is thus not a separate or detached concept. With this in mind, a proper comprehension of the present anti-cyberlaundering (ACL) legal regime first calls for a basic understanding of the present anti-money laundering (AML) legal regime. Hence, one needs to consider closely the existing AML legal framework. This chapter discusses current AML laws and legal principles, the aim being to identify its deficits as regards cyberlaundering and conceive of solutions to curb its growth. Therefore, as a precursor, this chapter first considers the current AML legal framework. This is then followed by a discussion of the present ACL legal framework. To ensure a complete comprehension of the ACL legal regime, it is discussed at both national and international levels. For the present ACL legal regime of local jurisdictions, this chapter examines whether an ACL legal regime exists in Germany and the United States (US). The criteria used to determine these jurisdictions is that of relevance and prevalence—that is, on the one hand, the relevance of the ACL laws within such jurisdictions, and, on the other hand, the prevalence of the ACL laws within those jurisdictions. Additionally, in these jurisdictions, there is an increased awareness of cyber crime and money laundering, given the high chances of vulnerability that exist (Take Germany for example. It is greatly susceptible to money laundering because of its large economy and financial centre, as well as its international linkages; its strong position and strategic location in Europe. About € 60 billion of criminal proceeds are generated in Germany alone. The fact that Germany shares the same Euro currency with other European countries only increases this propensity and its predisposition to money laundering activities. Financial Action Task Force (2010e, p. 12)). Another reason for the selection of these countries is that they are at the forefront of two diverging legal systems—common law and civil law. This chapter represents the basis for the proposed ACL legal regime that is discussed in subsequent chapters, for it identifies the inadequacies of relevant laws that are pertinent to fighting the problem of cyberlaundering .
Article
Financial crime is a complex topic but when it is coupled with the legal, jurisdictional and sovereignty issues of the internet and virtual worlds, it becomes even harder to regulate. Undoubtedly financial crime, via the internet (cyber financial crime) is a continuous threat and it is one that is increasing at an alarming pace. The law is trying hard to keep pace with the evolution of technology which is creating opportunities for criminals to exploit technology. The aim of this article is to discuss, in the context of the increase and evolution of virtual worlds, the economic crime committed within them. The article also discusses the application of real-world laws to the virtual world's crimes and considers (i) whether the laws are ill-fitting because of the inability to match the virtual world crime with the legislative provision; and (ii) the sovereignty and jurisdictional conflicts that arise when drafting legislating to encompass the wide remit of financial crime. Firstly, the article will consider how cybercrime has been defined and will contextualise the issue of inadequate regulation within the sphere of virtual worlds. Secondly, the article will consider and define the concepts of virtual environment and virtual community so as to determine the nature and presence of crime in the virtual world. There is currently no standard definition of "virtual community" and therefore there is a necessity to build this field of literature. The article argues that there is a predisposition on the part of criminals to find loopholes in technology and the law to commit crimes, which can be demonstrated by literature documenting cybercrimes. Thirdly, the article considers virtual worlds and criminality, and how and why criminals use virtual worlds to perpetrate their crimes. Fourthly, the article considers examples of cases of cyber financial crime, arguing that the sentences that have been laid down for perpetrators do not match the crimes the criminals have perpetrated because of the ill-fitting legislation. The fifth element of the article then moves on to examine the international legal perspective of cybercrimes by detailing various cases of cybercrime with a view to analysing some but by no means all of the issues related to regulation of the virtual world. The three countries that are examined are the United States, Australia and Nigeria, chosen as examples due to the present complexities of enacting new cyber laws into their domestic legislation. These countries provide an effective illustration of how complex cyber legislation drafting can be on a domestic level and as such legislating on an international level is fraught with drafting difficulties. Finally, the article concludes that although virtual worlds are not lawless they use ill-fitting real-world laws for crimes committed in virtual worlds and that these laws in some instances are flawed in their application.
Aus der Rechtsprechung des BGH zum Strafverfahrensrecht
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Cybercrimes and the Internet
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