The Web changes crime & coverage

Crime reporting is a staple of local news, so it’s important for journalists to provide context for their stories. At the 4th Annual Guggenheim Conference on Crime in Society, dozens of criminal justice reporters, criminologists and representatives of law enforcement gathered to talk about new research, policies and trends affecting criminal justice and the coverage of the system.

In a session on the impact of the Web in this arena, Doug Salane from the Center on  Cybercrime Studies at John College of Criminal Justice said that he continues to see more traditional crimes moving into the online world as computers and the Internet make things easier for criminals.

“For example, the “pump and dump” scheme to artificially raise the price of a stock – a botnet can send millions of emails about a stock for a very low price,” Salane said. Those emails encourage investors to buy a stock, which would pump up the price and allow the criminal to dump his own stock for big profit.

He also talked about a change in the way journalists need to look at hacking. “Hacking was individuals in the past, trying to prove something. Hacking is now more of an organized activity, largely emanating from outside the U.S., which makes it much harder to address, and the motive for most hacking is now profit.”

Salane discussed “carding sites” – Web sites, often based in Asia, that will sell all sorts of information about individuals for 80-cents an identity.

“This underground economy is growing at an alarming rate,” Salane said.

So, how does a journalist keep up with this growing form of crime? Salane points to the Internet Security Threat Report, which tracks the latest in Internet-based crimes.  The Bureau of Justice Statistics tracks identity theft, in particular, and will be issuing a new report in the fall of 2009.


2 Responses

  1. We are fortunate to have a very active Internet crimes branch of the Secret Service here in northeast Ohio and from it comes NOITR-the Northern Ohio Information Technology Roundtable, a group comprised of approximately 800 members representing about 200 organizations. Sadly, only three of us in the media are members.

    The man who is behind the NOITR, Senior Special Agent Michael Dobeck of the Electronic Crimes Task Force (which I now believe is part of the Department of Homeland Security), is a great resource in this area.

    You can find him by going to the NOITR website:

  2. Thanks for sharing this – and please send us a link to any reporting you do on this issue.

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