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IMT4130 : Fraud And Cybercrime

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IMT4130 : Fraud And Cybercrime

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Course Code: IMT4130
University: Norwegian University Of Science And Technology

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Country: Norway


(a) Provide a brief overview of the case
(b) Introduce and demonstrate a conceptual understanding of the selected theories/perspectives
(c) Apply the theories/perspectives in a manner that clearly demonstrates the applicability of each theory/perspective for understanding how and why the case occurred
(d) Drawing upon the theories/perspectives offer suggestions for prevention strategies applicable to the case and that type of cybercrime more broadly


This report is going to discuss a case study of fraud and cybercrime that affected the society. The chosen case study for the report is the Child exploitation case of Playpen. This case took place at December 2014. FBI team received information from foreign law enforcement agency about the creation of child pornography. The case states that the attackers use a site called playpen that hosted child pornography (Joseph, 2015). FBI handled the situation by tracking down the IP address as soon as I got public. FBI gathered details about the attackers who hosted the hosting site, warrant was being issued against them and soon FBI seized the server that was hosting the activity. In order to block and remove all the sites where these videos got viral, the FBI continued to operate the child porn website. This helped them to locate all the areas where these videos got viral and they successfully removed them from the systems. More than thousands of computers were searched with the help of Network investigation technique (Westlake, Bouchard, & Frank, 2015). This worked as soon as the FBI obtained the IP address with the help of NIT transmission, the name and the address related to that IP address got revealed and FBI launched warrant against them, in order to seize their systems and evidences regarding child pornography at that location.
Overview of the case:
 The case that is being discussed in this report is the Child exploitation case. In this case a server was created and was spread among all the other servers over the world maliciously. This server created a site called Playpen. Playpen was used to host child pornography. With time the site got viral among the people, thus it created a huge pressure among the FBI team. FBI took the in charge so that they can solve this case. They overcome this problem with the help of investigating this issue to the deepest (Walters & Davis, 2014). They launched warrant, so that they can seize all the information that are stored in the server of the hosts as soon as the IP address reveals the data. They used a technique known as Network investigation technique, in order to remove all the child pornography video from all over the world. The reason of operating the site was to locate all the users that are operating this site(Gillespie, 2014).
Until date, it is being analyzed that more than thousands of computers was infected with use of malware. With the completion of investigation hundreds of people across the world was found guilty. More than 137 cases are related to child exploitation was being addressed by the government. The attackers used Tor software in order to achieve their target. Tor is a kind of service that allows to access the internet without revealing the identity of the user. Thus, it becomes difficult to track the victims those are working with the help of the Tor service (Chase& Statham, 2015). Tor network acts as a shield and protects the IP address of the users. Moreover, Tor also hides the information of the users, thus they can perform activities without letting other to know about their identity, this is known as Tor hidden service.
In addition to this researches and the investigation made at least 350 U.S. based citizen were arrested, more than 25 producers involved in child pornography were prosecuted. The abusers for these children pornography was around 51 and all these were prosecuted. The children who got involved in this scandal were rescued after the operation (Russell, 2014). In a total average, it is being calculated that more than 548 peoples were arrested for this crime and there were around 296 sexually abused children been rescued. This act affected both the physical health and the mental health of the victim. The  result of FBI’s investigation leads to major punishment for the attackers. This affected the society and the victims a lot. There is a need to fix this type of problem. The malware that was used by FBI in the playpen case helped them to investigate the matter. This investigation included three critical parts, this are:

A generator that is going to be executed on a hidden service and this service was created by using a unique ID.
In addition to this, the exploit took the opportunity of the existing vulnerability that was hidden in the user’s software, in order to allow the users with the access for that device (Kloess, Beech, & Harkins, 2014).
The payload that was used in the whole scenario copied the information from the user’s device and then sent all the information back to the FBIO department, so that they can continue with further investigation.

This strategy helped the FBI to track all the pornography operated all over the world and helped them to rescue the children which got affected from this and those were forced to do such activities.
Theory description and overview
In this report, the chosen theory is social learning theory and general opportunity victimization. Social learning theory is a theory that contains knowledge about the social behavior that is needed to be acquired by the people while interacting with others. This states that learning is a cognitive process-taking place on the basis of social context. This occurs fully based on the observation or based on the direct instruction gained by them. The theory of general opportunity victimization theory is focused on the study, so that they can identify the risk factors associated with the victimization. The theories involved in criminology and victimology is being used to explain the victimization in terms of risk. The explanation provided in order to support the victimization risk is the opportunity perspective (Gillespie, 2014). This decides which attributes will affect  the opportunity of the victimization.
Reviewing the theories
The social learning theory includes cognitive and behavioral theories of learning so that it can facilitate the learning experience. This theory includes few steps, this are:

This learning is not only based on social behavior but also includes cognitive process that occurs in a social context.
Learning can be done by various reinforcement acts.
The basic learning involves observation of particular activity and collection of information from the observations. Based on the collected data , the learner needs to make a decision.
Reinforcement is a crucial part of learning but not the only part.

The underlying process involved in social learning theory is based on a model. This models can be of three types:

Live models:This model includes demonstration of desired behavior.
Verbal instruction:This includes explaining the behavior to the participants in detail and engaging them in the behavior.
Symbolic: This mode includes the media, television, internet and literature. Stimuli are of two types’ fictional characters or real characteristics.

The general opportunity victimization theory includes victimology and criminology used to discuss the victimization risk. This has developed over years(Henzey, 2017). The objective of the theory is to divide the theory into two parts , first reviewing the present situation of the theory and research , secondly the major pieces that moved the field forward. Several authors have reviewed the principal involved in the theory. The main aim of the theory is to understand the lifestyle of the people without stating the behavior that will influence the opportunity of the victimization.
Application of Theory
Both the theories can be implemented in order to solve the issue. The two theories that are used in the case study are social learning and general opportunity optimization. The major utility of adaptation of lawful hacking is fully dependent upon the development of the legal aspects as like that of the technological developments. With the issue there are several question that arises and are put forward in front of the federal court in a series of prosecutions (Halter, 2013). The courts are associated with the confrontation of the novel legal questions related to the hacking done by the government related to the context of sexual exploitation cases. The theory can be used to study the behaviour of the criminals and the impacts they created on others. With the help of social learning one can explain the criminal activities or track the crimes that are taking place. There is a section in the social learning theory that includes theories of development psychology , this deals with the moral development and development of gender role. With implication of this theory, one can determine the type of behaviour performed by the criminals (Krause, 2013). All this reasons are responsible for putting forward of further evidences related to the crimes of child exploitation and all this crimes needs an urgent as well as growing concern. This would be initially leading the enforcement of certain laws which would be initially responsible for the circumvention of the traditional investigation techniques in an easy way(Schoettle, 2015).
The theory of general opportunity victimization states the condition of the victim and the condition that are faced by them . in this case the theory is being applied to determine risk of getting victimized. The risk related to the child exploitation is based on the opportunity perspective. The operation conducted by FBI helped in putting forward about two hundred criminal prosecutions which initially helped in the creation of a potential road map for understanding the various fundamental as well as the legal issues that are responsible for this lawful hacking process. FBI mad use of the NIT or the network investigation technique so as to seek a warrant. This initially helped the FBI to seize the website and move it into a server controlled by the government(Hughes, 2015). This server was located in a particular district for the purpose of executing the NIT against any of the user who would log in to the site so as to use it. By depending upon the exploitable flaws that were undisclosed and were located inside the Tor, the government was capable of making a circumvent security feature.
Implications of Theory for Prevention
These two theories will help the case t be solved within a short time period. The case of Playpen was associated with giving rise to number of questions and this controversies mainly includes the following:

If the investigation technique was to be quantified as search by comparing it with the meaning of the Fourth Amendment
If he magistrate judge was having the authority to issue tie warrant by following the Rule 41 that was existing in the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedures,
Lastly if the warrants were at all satisfactory for the requirements of the constitution by considering the probable causes and the particularity.

The court has been associated with reaching a broad agreement on the first question which means that the operations conducted by the NIT were totally quantified as the search of a computer that has been targeted. The major question rests on the fact that if the nature of the information that has been obtained, which primarily includes one of the IP address, is considered to be a void of the defendant’s reasonable expectations related to the privacy. In general under the third party doctrine there exists no such virtue related to its functioning(Russell, 2017). The use of Tor is associated with disclosing the genuine IP address of the user which is shared with the first node in spite of being disguised whenever it passes through the intermediate nodes. The Tor is mainly utilized so as to keep the true IP address hidden from the final destination.
Some of the other major steps which are to be adopted in order tos top this type of crimes have been listed below:
All the activities and programmes, especially which are focused upon the children should be reviewed in order to assess the potential child protection issues and any kind of risks to the children(Maloney, 2017). Besides this it should also be ensured that the new activities that are going to be includes are designed in such a way that they are capable of preventing any kind of risks faced by the children online(Henzey, 2017).
Ensuring of child-safe recruitment along with proper monitoring and training: It is essential to make sure of the fact that screening of all the staffs as well as volunteers are done with extra care(Smolin, 2015). For this this should be including at least two verbal reference checks along with some behaviour-based questions for the users are also to be put forward for the individuals who are working with the children.
By applying these two theories, one can overcome the situation. The theories will help to determine the case and with implementing these theories, one can be able to minimize the risk. The general opportunity victimization theory determines the risk of being victimized. Once it is determined, it can be easily overcome. Thus, these theories will help them to overcome the situation.
From the above report it can concluded that child exploitation is a threat for the whole society. It not only affects the child’s physical health but also disturbs them mentally. The report discusses in brief the case study of child exploitation – playpen case. Child exploitation can be done by two ways, that is harassing them sexually or by economically. The case that is discussed there is the case of child exploitation in which, the attackers used a software to make children pornography and spread all over the world. The FBI team managed to seize the systems that spread this malware activities and the head of this activities was arrested and sentenced to being imprisoned for 30 years. These case states that, how the issue drained and challenged the mental health of the children. Later part of the paper discusses about the possible prevention methods that can be use and implemented in order to avoid such cases of children exploitation. The most important and appropriate way of preventing this activities are to create awareness among the people about the child rights in the constitution. Moreover, the victim can ask help from the NGOs. Nowadays social media plays an important role, so with the help of social media one can seek help and gather crowd in order to protest against the activities going on with them. This are the some affects and prevention that are drawn from the case study.
Blackburn, A. G., Taylor, R. W., & Davis, J. E. (2014). Understanding the complexities of human trafficking and child sexual exploitation: The case of Southeast Asia. Women & Criminal Justice, 20(1-2), 105-126.
Burns, C. M., Morley, J., Bradshaw, R., & Domene, J. (2017). The emotional impact on and coping strategies employed by police teams investigating internet child exploitation. Traumatology, 14(2), 20-31.
Cattanach, A. (2013). Play therapy with abused children. Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Chase, E., & Statham, J. (2015). Commercial and sexual exploitation of children and young people in the UK—A review. Child Abuse Review: Journal of the British Association for the Study and Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, 14(1), 4-25.
Dunlap, E., Golub, A., Johnson, B. D., & Wesley, D. (2014). Intergenerational transmission of conduct norms for drugs, sexual exploitation and violence: A case study. British Journal of Criminology, 42(1), 1-20.
Gillespie, A. (2014). Child exploitation and communication technologies. Russell House Publishing.
Halter, S. (2013). Factors that influence police conceptualizations of girls involved in prostitution in six US cities: Child sexual exploitation victims or delinquents?. Child maltreatment, 15(2), 152-160.
Henzey, M. J. (2017). Going on the offensive: A comprehensive overview of internet child pornography distribution and aggressive legal action. Appalachian JL, 11, 1.
Hughes, D. M. (2015). Trafficking for Sexual Exploitation: Case of the Russian Federation (No. 7). United Nations Publications.
Joseph, C. (2015). Scarlet wounding: Issues of child prostitution. The Journal of Psychohistory, 23(1), 2.
Kloess, J. A., Beech, A. R., & Harkins, L. (2014). Online child sexual exploitation: Prevalence, process, and offender characteristics. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 15(2), 126-139.
Krause, M. (2013). Identifying and managing stress in child pornography and child exploitation investigators. Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology, 24(1), 22-29.
Lalor, K., & McElvaney, R. (2016). Child sexual abuse, links to later sexual exploitation/high-risk sexual behavior, and prevention/treatment programs. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 11(4), 159-177.
Leary, M. G. (2017). Self-produced child pornography: The appropriate societal response to juvenile self-sexual exploitation. Va. J. Soc. Pol’y & L., 15, 1.
Maloney, J. (2017). Shutting down the Child Exploitation Industry through Enterprise-Based Prosecution. J. Marshall L. Rev., 51, 59.
Russell, D. E. (2014). Sexual exploitation: Rape, child sexual abuse, and workplace harassment.
Russell, Z. (2017). First They Came for the Child Pornographers: The FBI’s International Search Warrant to Hack the Dark Web. . Mary’s LJ, 49, 269.
Schoettle, U. C. (2015). Child exploitation: A study of child pornography. Journal of the American Academy of Child Psychiatry, 19(2), 289-299.
Smolin, D. M. (2015). Child laundering and the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption: The future and past of intercountry adoption. U. Louisville L. Rev., 48, 441.
Walters, J., & Davis, P. H. (2014). Human trafficking, sex tourism, and child exploitation on the southern border. Journal of applied research on children: informing policy for children at risk, 2(1), 6.
Westlake, B. G., Bouchard, M., & Frank, R. (2015). Finding the key players in online child exploitation networks. Policy & Internet, 3(2), 1-32.

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