Electronic Transactions Make a Dent in Theft Rates

It seems that consumers and businesses alike are transacting an increasing volume of commercial and financial activity online. As a result, white collar crimes such as embezzlement, theft, fraud or even financial abuse of the elderly may no longer need to be committed in person.

To say that criminal activity follows supply may not be much of an insight. However, a recent study questioned whether the switch to online financial and shopping activities has led to a decrease in the amount of theft. An eleven-year study in a small county in the Midwest suggests that crime does follow cash, and when that cash motive shrinks, crime rates may respond accordingly.

Specifically, researchers found that electronic payments produced a decrease in the overall crime rate by almost ten percent. The specific criminal offenses of burglary, assault and larceny each showed declining rates, as well.

Needless to say, the evidence that prosecutors may bring against an accused will likely vary, depending on whether the alleged offense was committed online or in person. Each may also present specific challenges for raising a strong defense. For example, white collar crimes involving the Internet may involve hundreds or even thousands of electronic records, which prosecutors may have subpoenaed from an Internet service provider or seized directly from a defendant’s personal computer.

A theft that was committed in person, on the other hand, may involve more forensic evidence. Of course, any offense may also involve evidence such as police reports and witness testimony. An experienced criminal defense attorney will be able to adapt to the strategic demands required for each defense.

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