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Internet Fraud Casebook by Joseph T. Wells

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Preface

Let me admit one thing up front—I am a computer Neanderthal. As a matter of fact, when I graduated from college nearly four decades ago, these electronic wonders (that now manage nearly every aspect of our lives) had not even found their way into business school curricula.

My, how times have changed. But one thing that has stayed the same is the definition of fraud, which has been a part of our lexicon for eons. Simply put, it is an intentional false statement used to deprive an innocent victim of money or property. What is completely new is how people are now victimized. In other words, it is the same song but with a different verse.

Before the advent of mail, it was usually necessary for the fraudster to deliver a spiel to the potential victim face-to-face. When letters came in to existence, the crook only had to invest in a postage stamp to remotely defraud the victim. Not now. Anyone with a computer can deliver faceless phony pitches to millions of people almost instantaneously over the Internet—at little or no cost. Moreover, without proper security (as if there were really such a thing), thieves can tap into bank accounts, credit cards and most of the world's cash.

Although former U.S. Vice President Al Gore has taken great pains to discredit the rumor, many people actually still believe that he "invented" the Internet. The truth is that it began in 1969 as an experiment between the University of California at Los Angeles and Stanford Research International. In 1974, ...

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