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Cyber Crime in the U.S. and Nigeria Case Study

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Updated: Jun 25th, 2021

Cases that involve multiple countries may be more difficult to investigate than domestic crimes because of the collaborative issues that the nations often face. The case “Purchase Order Scam Leaves a Trail of Victims” is an example where states’ local law enforcement and weak international cooperation contributed to the situation not having any positive outcomes. The discussed problem is the so-called purchase order fraud. Criminals use fake websites, phone numbers, and emails to purchase large quantities of goods (“Purchase order scam,” 2014). It may be virtually impossible to recover the purchased products once they leave the U.S. soil. A case analysis is offered below, discussing the American justice system, violations of the law in both the U.S. and Nigeria, the collaboration of the international and local agencies, and the outcomes to this investigation.

American Justice System

The difference between dealing with international and domestic crimes lies in the use of the law system of either one or multiple countries. In local cases, individuals and groups undergo the process that fully relies on the American law. However, when working with international crimes, all involved countries employ their procedures. As the discussed case does not have any success with an actual prosecution, one can focus on the investigation itself. In the U.S., the examination of such cases is taken over by the FBI that can collect necessary information from affected retailers, universities, and persons acting as the middleman between the scammers and sellers. The national agency may also try to examine the addresses and contacts used by the fraudsters to find their physical location. However, they cannot physically investigate these places without getting permission from the country of the perpetrators’ residence.

If the criminals are identified, the U.S.’ agreement with the involved country can affect the due process. For example, the nations can arrange a transfer where the perpetrator is brought to the U.S. for a trial or, on the other hand, brought into the state of residence to be tried and convicted there. In this particular example, the crime was committed against organizations located in the U.S. However, the fraudsters were operating from Nigeria. The countries can decide which laws will be reciprocated.

Generally, non-citizens possess a range of rights that are similar to those of the U.S. citizens. Thus, the actual trial and investigation processes incorporate such enforced rights as the right to a jury, protection from all discrimination and self-incrimination (“U.S. Constitution,” n.d.). Nevertheless, as the case does not involve potential criminals being identified, these guidelines are not applicable. The only procedural laws that the U.S. has utilized in this example deal with the reach of the investigation which is hindered by the lack of collaboration with Nigeria.

Violation

In the discussed case, the criminals’ citizenship status cannot be determined conclusively because their identities were never established. However, it is most likely that the offenders are the citizens of Nigeria, according to the U.S. investigators (“Purchase order scam,” 2014). This lack of information along with the remote location of criminals does not help the investigation, because the involved American agencies are unable to collect more details about these persons without receiving support from the government of Nigeria. Therefore, the perpetrators cannot be apprehended and charged as they do not reside on the U.S. territory. Moreover, the nature of these people’s activity, cybercrimes, also limits the abilities of the U.S. This type of illegal actions is difficult to investigate, primarily because the criminals used fake numbers, emails, and websites and influenced American citizens who voluntarily, although unknowingly, supported these crimes.

The perpetrators were located in Nigeria at all times, including the moment of the crime. Their place of residence affected the U.S.’ investigation significantly, as the local law enforcement agencies could not find the individuals or the shipped goods once the latter left the U.S. territory. Thus, the investigation could not move past the border without additional support from international agencies. The discussed activities in the case included only IC3 (Internet Crime Complaint Center) and FBI-led investigations, which implies that the process of locating perpetrators did not involve Nigeria. Therefore, it can be said that the criminal’s foreign citizenship played a crucial role in their apprehension.

Upon committing purchase order fraud, the involved individuals violated multiple domestic and international laws. First of all, in the U.S., they purchased goods under the disguise of respected organizations located in the U.S. For this purpose, the criminals used fake identities such as emails, websites, and phone numbers. These actions constitute fraud and fall under the 18 U.S. Code § 1028 – “Fraud and related activity in connection with identification documents, authentication features, and information” (“18 U.S. Code § 1028 – Fraud,” n.d., para. 1). Specifically, the fraudsters could be tried according to the subsections (a)(1) and (a)(7). The first subsection deals with the processes of producing false identification documents or means – in this case, online sources, fake phone numbers, and purchase documentation. The next subsection can be used as well because it describes the procedure of assuming others’ identity with the intent of committing an illegal activity under their name.

According to these laws, punishment may include a fine and imprisonment for “not more than 15 years” as stated in the subsection (b)(1)(D) (“18 U.S. Code § 1028 – Fraud,” n.d., para. 1 ). The criminals’ case can be processed using this particular subsection because they used false means of Identification and succeeded in obtaining expensive equipment and materials which cost more than $1.000.

In Nigeria, similar laws exist as well. According to the country’s Criminal Code Act, the fraudsters violated Chapter 38 called “Obtaining property by false pretenses; Cheating” (“Criminal Code Act,” n.d.). Specifically, the criminals can be tried according to such subsections as 419 and 421. In paragraph 419, the obtainment of goods under false pretenses is discussed. This violation subjects the person to seven years of imprisonment as the cost of the accumulated goods is higher than one thousand naira. Subsection 421 deals with making other people obtain or deliver products as a part of the fraudulent activity and perpetrators can be imprisoned for two years.

International Agencies and Law

The laws mentioned above are the main ones to be considered during the examination. The investigation was unable to locate the criminals because they resided in Nigeria. According to the regulations of Nigeria, the perpetrators can be apprehended with a warrant, which means that they have to be investigated by both countries. The lack of collaboration reveals that the U.S.’ national agencies do not have the ability to prosecute these individuals on their own which staggers the investigation. The U.S. laws could not be enforced because of the limited power the FBI and IC3 have abroad. It is apparent that no international agencies were asked to participate in the process. It can be explained by the fact Nigeria is a country with a historically low success of crime prosecution initiatives (“Countries/jurisdictions,” 2014). This point may be a leading political factor that hinders the investigation. Other impactful aspects are the high rate of corruption in Nigeria and its lack of official agreements with the U.S. regarding criminal activity investigations.

The only possible way to mitigate these crimes involves educating citizens and businesses about fraud. FBI and IC3 can collect information about the incidents from individuals and companies in order to attempt stopping the goods’ shipment on the U.S. territory. However, once the products cross the border, it is virtually impossible to bring them back. As was mentioned above, the level of reciprocity in this case was extremely low, which led to the criminals not being located in every instance. If the coordination between the U.S.’ domestic agencies, Nigerian law enforcement, and international cybercrime organizations was established, the success of the operation could be much higher. Thus, cooperation is essential in such instances.

Conclusion

Upon analyzing all details of the case, one can conclude that the investigation was performed ineffectively. The criminals were not apprehended or even identified in all instances, which meant that the affected businesses had to absorb all financial losses. However, it can be said that the work of the IC3 could be considered efficient in its attempts to recover the goods while they are still in the U.S. Nevertheless, the overall state of the investigation does not offer many opportunities for future successes. It could be recommended to consult with Nigerian law enforcement in order to get permission to track these fraudsters or obtain their means of identification and computer location. However, seeing as their reliability is considered low, education and crime prevention seem to be the best possible ways to mitigate such crimes.

References

(2014). Web.

Criminal Code Act –Part VI to the end. (n.d.). Web.

(n.d.). Web.

(2014). Web.

(n.d.). Web.

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IvyPanda. (2021, June 25). Cyber Crime in the U.S. and Nigeria. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/cyber-crime-in-the-us-and-nigeria/

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1. IvyPanda. "Cyber Crime in the U.S. and Nigeria." June 25, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/cyber-crime-in-the-us-and-nigeria/.


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IvyPanda. 2021. "Cyber Crime in the U.S. and Nigeria." June 25, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/cyber-crime-in-the-us-and-nigeria/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Cyber Crime in the U.S. and Nigeria'. 25 June.

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