We are excited that the Indigenous Crime Victim Services Referral and Resource Center has a new initiative. We are now a member of the National Identity Theft Victim Assistant Network and will have opportunities to “network” with you in supporting and enhancing the safety of our Women, Children and Families. This initiative is known as the “ICVSRRC Identity Theft/Cybercrime Program.”

“Identity theft is the fastest-growing crime in the United States…”

Cybercrime encompasses any criminal act dealing with computers and networks. Additionally, cybercrime also includes traditional crimes conducted through the internet. For example: hate  crimes, internet fraud, identity theft and bank/credit card/social security/etc. thefts are considered to be cybercrimes when the illegal activities are committed through the use of a computer and the internet.

Cybercrime covers many areas of victimization and can be a “co-occurring crime” to many victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, elder abuse, etc. Many of us are familiar with cyberbullying, which has affected many, especially our young people. These other crimes can also have devastating affects on victims:

What Are Identity Theft and Identity Fraud?
Identity theft and identity fraud are terms used to refer to all types of crime in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person’s personal data in some way that involves fraud or deception, typically for economic gain.

With enough identifying information about an individual, a criminal can take over that individual’s identity to conduct a wide
range of crimes. For example:

  • False applications for loans and credit cards,
  • Fraudulent withdrawals from bank accounts, social security accounts, etc.,
  • Fraudulent use of telephone calling cards or online accounts, or
  • Obtaining other goods or privileges which the criminal might be denied if he were to use his real name

Cyberfraud via Identity Theft
Typically identity theft is a stranger crime committed for the financial benefit of the perpetrator; however, this can occur between current/former intimate partners as well. Within the context of a current/former relationship, the purpose was typically not for financial gain but to control the survivor, keep them from leaving, and/or enact revenge. Perpetrators opened online credit cards, secured loans, and/or obtained mortgages in survivors’ names. Then, perpetrators wouldn’t pay amounts due in order to destroy credit histories thus affecting her application for housing, work, a car, even daycare.

Cybersexual Abuse via Nonconsensual Pornography |Revenge Porn
This is defined as the public distribution of sexually graphic images and/or videos without the consent of the individual portrayed in the content. These can be real or constructed images.

Distribution varies:

  • Email
  • Public websites
  • Social media
  • Text messaging

Most often, this occurs when an intimate partner later distributes images without the partner’s consent or uses the material to control their partner. Often motivated by retribution, so commonly called “revenge porn.”

This intimate partner can also publish contact information (e.g., home address, phone/social media) to cause further personal and professional harm.

Cybersexual Exploitation |Sextortion –
Occurs when an individual is pressured through some technological means (e.g., text, messaging services, social media) to engage in actions against their will (e.g., sexual activities, sexual images, etc.).

This is the most common cyber victimization and all survivors experienced this. Cyberstalking includes behaviors such as using technology to harass and/or scare victims (e.g., email, instant messaging, text messaging, posts on blogs/bulletin boards, chatroom, internet sites about the victim).

Cyberstalking also includes offenders monitoring victims via audio/visual devices or computer spyware and/or monitoring movements online.

If you would like more information on how the ICVSRRC Identity Theft/Cybercrime Program can help your community address these crimes, please fill out this short SURVEY and submit back to me.