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Electronic Fund Transfer Crime - An Overview

NCJ Number
Date Published
60 pages
Following a review of the current literature on electronic fund transfer (EFT) crime, this report examines technical computer crime methods that can be used in EFT fraud and assesses the nature and volume of EFT crime in Hawaii.
Prevention of EFT is very difficult, and the only solution may be to put more money into security techniques. Current laws may be inadequate to deal with the problem, and Federal law may soon be outdated because of the intricacy and sophistication of the techniques and an inadequate understanding of computer usage and language by legislators and prosecutors. There are many methods used in computer-related crime that make it difficult, if not impossible to detect. These include data diddling, trojan horse, salami technique, trap doors, logic bombs, asynchronous attacks, scavenging, data leakage, piggybacking, wire tapping, and simulation and modeling. Data diddling is the most common method and involves changing data before or during program input. EFT crimes can include physical destruction, theft of information or property, unauthorized use of services, and financial deception. Computer criminals may range from hackers and computer technologists to may range from hackers and computer technologists to foreign powers. Areas for prevention include manual assurance of data integrity, physical and operations security, management-initiated controls, program development and maintenance, computer system control, and terminal access controls. A 1983 mail questionnaire survey of 15 financial institutions in Hawaii indicates that EFT crimes were not of major significance for banks and savings and loan associations. Incidents involving unauthorized use of automatic teller machine cards were most frequent and involved over $50,000. Most illegal uses were by relatives or acquaintances of victims. Nevertheless, most institutions felt that the potential for serious problems exists and will probably increase as the value of transactions increases and EFT systems expand. Tabular data, 110 footnotes, and 23 references are provided.