U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Computer Crime Categories: How Techno-Criminals Operate

NCJ Number
FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin Volume: 64 Issue: 7 Dated: (July 1995) Pages: 21-27
D L Carter
Date Published
7 pages
This article discusses various types of computer crimes and possible investigative strategies for law enforcement.
While there are four primary types of computer crimes, multiple crimes can occur during any given criminal transaction. Crimes in which the computer is the target include the theft of intellectual property or marketing information, blackmail, or sabotage of operating systems and programs. In all of these crimes, the offender uses the computer to obtain information or to damage operating programs. In the second type of crime, the processes of the computer, that is, its instrumentality, rather than the content of actual files, is used to commit the crime. Offenses in this category include fraudulent use of automated teller machines, credit card fraud, and telecommunications fraud. In another type of computer crime, the computer is not essential for the crime to occur, but is related to the criminal act. For example, drug offenders may use computers to record information on their money laundering, trafficking, and other illegal activities. The fourth category includes recently invented crimes related to the proliferation of computers, such as software piracy, black marketeering, and theft of computer equipment. Some unique problems related to computer crime pertain to intellectual property issues, the concept of malfeasance by computer, and international issues.