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Vladimir Golubev

On-Line Fraud

Vladimir A. Golubev Last time Internet became not only huge storehouse of the information and way of interpersonal attitudes, but also a platform where are new economic relations. The form of development such relations is the conclusion and execution commercial transactions in a network (remote transactions). There are offers on sale of goods, works, and services on various Web-sites. There are electronic payments systems which allow to pay off the goods. Development of electronic trade and systems, allowing to make payments with use the Internet (on-line shops, electronic banking, etc.) is connected, first of all, to economy of time and other costs.

Books, software, computer equipment, air tickets, place in a tourist group are the goods and services which users get through a network more often.

Commercial activity in network removes a number of the physical restrictions natural to work of usual trading enterprises. Computer systems in the Internet are capable to provide support of clients 24 hours per day, seven days in a week. Orders for production can be accepted at any time and from any place. Development of electronic commerce was also promoted by absence of customs restrictions. Special Commission of the United Nations has published « The Act on Duty-Free Electronic Trade and the International Commercial Law» in 1996. Countries of the European Union and the USA are engaged in duty-free electronic trade since 1998.

E-commerce offers new forms of the enterprise organization and business dealing. For example, the book-selling firm "Amazon" from Seattle can represent a symbol of electronic business. It sells all production through the Internet and directly coordinates delivery of the goods from publishers to buyers not having traditional shops with counters.

The desire to increase a money turnover through a global network gradually extends to fine firms. Under forecasts of research center IDC the share of the small companies in on-line trade will increase up to 72 % and their incomes achieve billion dollars in 2003.

Forms of å-trade are also changed in process of Internet expansion. Nowadays, e-auctions have a great popularity. They involve millions of users, which wish to buy everything, (beginning from a toaster up to fishing tackles) at unknown persons. The leader of the information industry, the company eBay, has published the report on incomes for 2002, which made $ 240 million. Not wishing to distribute the information on the users, eBay informed, that 35 million users sell or buy something at on-line auctions routinely.

Safety of any commercial deal is its critical question. Experts assert that auctions, whose popularity is constantly increased, became easy target for cybercriminals. Swindle in this field is usually committed with the help of stolen essential elements of credit cards, shops completely disappearing from the market after successful illegal deals, the fictitious shops intended for gathering of the information on credit cards. And all these are constant concomitants of today's e-commerce.

The statistical service on swindle account at National Consumers League's internet Fraud Watch informs that the number on-line fraud has increased and makes 87 % of number of committed cybercrimes. On average, each victim has suffered the loss for $ 484 in 2002.

The Federal Trade Commission's Consumer Sentinel which prepared the statistical data about Internet-fraud for a meeting of law enforcements has received more than 20000 complaints on such cybercrimes.

Videocamera Sony have been exposed on auction at the end of December, 2002. Actually the owner of firm Kevin Pilgrim (from Raytown, the state Missouri), did not arrange any auction. More than 20 persons wishing to conclude the favorable on-line deal have agreed to pay $ 605 for each commodity unit and some even have begun to make payments. But there were not any videocamera. Two-day auction appeared as usual cybercrime. Swindlers, which have illegally got access to Pilgrim's bank account, having taken hold of money of "buyers", have disappeared, before the bank server eBay could block the given account.

On-line auctions are based on mutual trust between the seller and the buyer and cybercriminals enjoy this trust in the frauds. They illegally enter to accounts of users or sellers with good reputation and use this reputation, deceiving the buyers.

Similar happened with Pilgrim. On December, 16, 2002, checking the email, he has found 18 users eBay which wanted to buy video cameras from him. He was refused in access at attempt to enter to the account. The password has been changed. Having taken hold of Pilgrim's site, swindlers advertised digital camera Sony with such phrases: «buy now», «all for 200 dollars». There was instruction and even packing for a video camera on a site.

The only thing that the owner of firm could do is to send warnings to buyers. FBI informed him that such cybercrimes are perpetrated pretty often, and they cannot aim the agents to everyone unexpectedly arisen cybercrime.

“We receive such calls every day, and it shows that this crimes are prevalent”, - Jeff Lanza, the representative of FBI in Kansas City says.

The quantity of roguish auctions in the Internet has increased, because of high rate on-line trade development, but there are no effective means on protection of consumers.

“Cybercrime hangs above the Internet-market like a shadow and you can bee the witness of the swindle, remaining helpless before this monster”, - Pilgrim says, - “In this case there is no service 911, where you can address”.

Some Internet - sellers assert that each fourth attempt to lead the transaction through the Internet is roguish. At the same time, system VISA asserts, that 47 % of its cards used through the Internet are roguish. According to consulting company Meridien Research the sum of stolen through the Internet resources has reached $ 1, 6 billion in 2000. United States have suffered from electronic thefts most of all. Under forecasts of the same company if the situation with safety in e-commerce will not improve, the volume of losses will make $ 15, 5 billion in 2005.

«The Cybercrime disclosing is an attempt to hit the moving target», - vice-president of the company on protection of production and services in Kansas City, John Guibileo says. Besides it is necessary to mean, that swindle in electronic commerce have, basically, latent character. The most widespread strategy of swindlers is to strike bargain for the small sums and frequently remain the unnoticed injured owners of accounts.

The representative of the company eBay Kevin Purseglove agrees that the company has reacted to Pilgrim's auction insufficiently quickly. Though usually the company warns the clients about cyber threat and gives recommendation on the most widespread ways used by hackers for breaking and a fake the accounts

Also, Kevin Purseglove said that the question of creation the Internet-service 911 has been discussed already. Other experts advice to eBay and other companies, holding auctions to use the programs which would enable to reveal attempts to break open the password of someone's account, and then to block their actions. This way of protection is worthy too. “Auctions sites should have the team of "urgent reaction”, - Beau Brendler speaks, director of Web-accounting service of Consumer Web Watch.

But in any case consumers have to check reliability of the tenders. The requirement of any confidential information, persistence in payment for offered production should guard the user. Some clients do not wait, while legal authorities or sites of auctions will find cybercriminals and they try to search swindlers in Internet. “Similar intrusion of cybercriminals in the Internet is not too dangerous. But when it happens with you, all varies”, - Alan Pollack says, the doctor from Los Angeles, who has bought one videocamera. Pollack was one of participants of police group who tracked down the cybercriminals on other sites, and also warned all buyers participating in auctions. Meanwhile they managed to find only three swindlers. They check obviously roguish markets, i.e. which establish improbably low prices for the goods, and suggest to make a remittance on the specified address abroad. Pollack and his small Internet-group have searched cybercriminals which have controlled Pilgrim's site. Recently he was informed, that all facts on this case have been handed to city police of Nuremberg, and investigation is already started.

The psychological factor connected to comprehension of threat of potential swindle, is the basic obstacle for use the Internet as means of business deals. Interrogations show, that most of people are afraid of potential threat of reception of their personal data by somebody at work through the Internet. According to payment system VISA about 23 % of transactions of e-commerce are not made because of fear of the client to enter the personal information required by electronic shop

In conclusion it is necessary to emphasize, that rapid development of IT-technologies has outstripped development of the corresponding legislation and necessary measures of protection. Nowadays, the huge market of e-commerce develops and it is important to provide a necessary level of its legal protection.

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