Taking a Swipe at Cybercrime


They say crime doesn’t pay, but cybercrimes such as ATM skimming (illegally swiping data from people’s cards) empties our bank accounts by more than a billion dollars each year. In February, Pace and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants hosted a symposium on the growing impact of cybercrime on various industries and a review of original research focused on the issue of skimmer fraud.

Participants came from a variety of backgrounds and included Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., Chief of the Cybercrime and Identity Theft Bureau and Investigative Division David Szuchman, and Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Secret Service New York Field Office Paul Mahon.

“Gone are the days when a bank robber needed to point a gun at a teller to steal money,” says Seidenberg Computer Information Systems Chair and computer forensics expert Darren Hayes, DPS. “Now the thieves can bilk millions from financial institutions using simple skimming devices.”

Theft of personal information happens through the copying of information on a credit card, the illegal installation of a “skimming” device or “parasite” on a point-of-sale machine at stores or gas stations, or theft of bank information from overlay skimming devices at ATMs. Many agencies talk about the issue of cybercrime, but they don’t break out the skimmer fraud piece and how important that is for overall evaluation.

“We’re working on a survey of corporations, distributed through accounting firms, to make an assessment of companies that have been victims of skimmer fraud,” says Hayes, who hopes to collaborate with other researchers from Seidenberg and the Lubin School of Business. “Our goal is to quantify how big the problem is and ultimately provide guidance on how organizations can seek to mitigate these risks.”

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