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What is cybercrime?

Cybercrime is a catch-all term for criminals using digital technology for criminal activity, usually to steal information, data, goods, assets or money. Specialist criminals target individuals, SMEs and large corporations to hack private data and profit from the stolen data available to them.

What are the types of cybercrime?

Cybercrime is comprised of two distinct types of crime:

  1. Cyber-enabled crime: traditional offences increased in scale through the use of ICT, for example theft and fraud (e.g. email scams); and
  2. Cyber-dependent crime: offences which can only be committed through utilising ICT, for example the disruption of IT systems and hacking personal data (Facebook or online banking accounts) developing malware and hacking.

How widespread is cybercrime?

1 in 10 people in England and Wales are victims of cybercrime. Hackers have stolen over £130billion from consumers in 2017 alone, which includes £4.6billion from British users of the internet. Losses suffered by victims of financial crime are more than simply financial, as victims of cyber fraud on average spend two days dealing with the effects of cybercrime.

The growth of the internet and the increasing use of e-commerce coupled with the digitalisation of our bank accounts and personal details has meant crime and fraud have evolved. Individuals can be robbed on the street but increasingly individuals are being robbed online. High-net worth individuals have been specifically targeted by criminals.

Because cybercrime is so widespread, it is difficult for the police, CPS and Serious Fraud Office (SFO) to deal adequately with prosecuting hackers. A private prosecution offers the victim of a cybercrime a tailored means of redress which cannot be offered by the State but can be provided by the Private Prosecution Service.

Why do public prosecutions of cybercriminals rarely succeed?

Even though internet crime is widespread, it is difficult for the state to prosecute cybercriminals for a number of reasons.

Firstly, in some cases, the cybercriminal is not located in the UK and jurisdictional issues means that the state are unwilling or unable to engage in a cross-border prosecution. The state deal with and consider 1000s of cases daily, in contrast, the Private Prosecution Service offer a client a tailored approach with all the resources and expertise necessary to ensure that a prosecution is successful, if criminality can be proven.

Secondly, the police, CPS and SFO are only recently developing the resources and understanding the nature of cybercrime. It is a long evolutionary process which the state’s law enforcement agencies are still conducting to train officers to understand cybercrime, the methods of collecting evidence and the utilisation of cyber-specialist investigators. The Private Prosecution Service is a specialist unit of expert lawyers that understand the nuances of cybercrime and the methods required to collect and preserve vital evidence.

Thirdly, the majority of cybercrimes remain unreported. The average person does not know how, when and where to report an internet crime. Most people believe that a malware or ransomware attack perpetrated by an anonymous cybercriminal cannot be successfully prosecuted.

Finally, the CPS are not experts in collecting the evidence required for a successful cybercrime prosecution. Even an accurate log file in some cases is not considered to be enough evidence for a worthwhile prosecution. A successful prosecution requires targeting the evidence required and working with computer professionals and/or cyber-forensic investigators to get the evidence needed.

Who can bring a private prosecution for a cybercrime?

A private prosecution can be brought by individuals and commercial entities by virtue of section 6(1) of the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985.

It is important to note that private prosecutions should not be utilised as a vehicle to force a settlement in civil proceedings and a prosecution should only be considered if there is a case to be made that the cyber offence demonstrates elements of criminality.

Why do victims of cybercrime consider a private prosecution?

Victims of cybercrime consider starting a private prosecution for a number of reasons, for example:

  • to deter future criminal conduct by the suspect;
  • to send a clear message to potential fraudsters that a company that has been defrauded will take strong action;
  • as a necessary tool when the public prosecution authorities are unwilling to act;
  • potential compensation for the victim.
  • to establish a precedent for future conduct;
  • to protect society; and
  • a private prosecutor can access specialist expertise which many public prosecuting authorities cannot utilise, which can increase the chances of prosecution.

What is the law on cyber-enabled fraud?

Cyber-enabled fraud is the most prevalent cybercrime. The underlying legislation applicable to the fraud will be dependent on the underlying nature of the deception.  The Private Prosecution Service will provide expert advice on the legislation that a private prosecutor can rely upon.

Cyber-enabled fraud offences could be charged under:

What are the advantages of the private prosecution of cybercrime?

A private prosecution allows victims to get justice for internet criminal offences committed against them that have not been taken on by neither the police nor CPS nor SFO. The media have reported that private prosecutions are on the increase due to police and CPS budget cuts which has limited the ability of the enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute crime effectively. These cuts have created a trend amongst individuals to fund their own criminal actions due to a failure of the police to investigate or the CPS’s unwillingness to press ahead to trial.

The sheer number of cybercrimes committed on a daily basis in the UK- 1 in 10 people are a victim of cybercrime- means that the CPS has neither the capacity nor resources to deal adequately with each reported cyber-enabled fraud. By contrast, the Private Prosecution Service offer a client a tailored approach with all the resources and expertise necessary to ensure that a prosecution is successful, if criminality can be proven. Private prosecutions are a necessary tool allowing a victim to take control of proceedings and actively pursue a conviction against the accused.

In addition, the state does not have the capacity to dedicate resources to understand the nuances of cybercrime and the methods required to collect and preserve vital evidence.  A successful private prosecution requires a cynical targeting of the evidence required and working with computer professionals and/or cyber-forensic investigators to get the evidence needed for a successful prosecution.

Some individuals feel that civil proceedings may be prohibitively slow and a private prosecution would offer a speedier resolution. In addition, the civil damages awarded may not adequately compensate for the harm suffered whereas private prosecutions have the availability of tougher penalties which includes unlimited fines and imprisonment.

Many corporate entities have launched private prosecutions to protect their data and intellectual property, rather than leave their rights to be protected by public law enforcement agencies.

Types of Cybercrime

Identity Theft

Generally, low cost claims include phishing emails which trick victims into revealing personal details. This can include identify theft and fraud. Scammers often trick victims into giving up personal information to reveal passwords and personal information or use keyloggers to track what a victim types when logging into their personal accounts. Due to the sheer number of these scams, with 1 in 10 people a victim of such scams, the public authorities do not have the manpower to adequately investigate every instance of cybercrime.

A private prosecution allows the victim to pursue reparation in a streamlined and clinical way to get compensation for their losses and to bring the cybercriminal to justice.

Advance Fee Fraud

This involves scammers emailing victims offering them a future financial profit in return for a payment in advance from the fraud victim. A notable example includes the 419 scam (Nigerian Prince scam).

A private prosecution allows the victim of advanced fee frauds to pursue reparation in a streamlined and clinical way to get compensation for their losses and to bring the cybercriminal to justice.

Electronic Financial Fraud

Electronic financial fraud includes internet enabled card-not-present (CNP) fraud where a transaction is conducted online without both the card and the cardholder. Online banking frauds are another example of electronic financial fraud.

A private prosecution offers the victim of an electronic financial fraud the opportunity to seek both compensation and justice from the cybercriminal when either the police or CPS are either unable or unwilling to act.

Transaction Fraud

Examples include cybercriminals claiming a fraudulent chargeback having received goods sold through auction sites such as eBay and offering items for sale without the intention of delivering once payment is received.

Private prosecutions offer an individual victim of online transaction fraud another means to pursue justice against cybercriminals and fraudsters.

Hacking Fraud

Hackers identify security vulnerabilities of computers, tablets and mobile phones to gain unauthorised use. Security hackers typically target corporations and exploit weaknesses in a computer system, leading to the theft of valuable information such as credit card numbers, personal data and corporate secrets. The deliberate release of viruses, worms, Trojans, spyware, ransomware and GhostNet malware are common weapons used by cybercriminals to target personal data.

Private prosecutions offer an individual victim of hacking fraud a clinical means to pursue justice against cybercriminals and fraudsters.

The Private Prosecution Service can help victims of cybercrime

Unlike the police or CPS, the Private Prosecution Service offer technical expertise and the capacity to help you with your prosecution against cybercriminals. In addition-you-the victim- retain full control of the criminal proceedings instead of relying on the state to represent your best interests.

The Private Prosecution Service is skilled at advising on and targeting the evidence required to establish potential criminality. The government has passed a plethora of legislation to enable the victims of cybercrime to protect their rights; however, the decision to bring criminal proceedings is an important one, which should be made after consulting the Private Prosecution Service as soon as possible.

For the best Private Prosecution Lawyers in London call 02071830529 or email contact@privateprosecutionservice.co.uk.