Unveiling Cybercrime in a Developing Country

Unveiling Cybercrime in a Developing Country

Richard Boateng (University of Ghana Business School, Ghana) and Jonathan Nii Barnor Barnor (University of Ghana Business School, Ghana)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 27
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9715-5.ch005
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This article unveils the pervasiveness of cybercriminal activities in Ghana from the point of view of key stakeholders in the fight against the crime. From a critical realist's perspective, the authors employed a qualitative approach to understand cybercrime from the point of view of different key players—four cybercriminals, eight lawyers, eight bankers, six café operators and personnel from the cybercrime unit of the Ghana Police—for the study. Findings from the article pointed out that cybercrime has gained ground among Ghanaian youth between the ages of 12 and 35, mostly males with female decoys. The findings of the article also suggested lack of confidence in the Ghana Police service to crackdown on cybercriminal activities in Ghana. The research finally suggested that there seem to be the nonexistence of cybercrime policies and laws for lawyers to arraign or defend suspected criminals in Ghanaian courts of law.
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Information and communication technology (ICT) networks, devices and services are increasingly critical for day-to-day activities (ITU, 2015). These ICTs arguably have therefore become necessary elements in our everyday lives and businesses for the past few decades (Bankole & Bankole, 2017). Despite the enormous benefits of ICTs, there exist a myriad of malicious use of these technologies which translate into financial loss to individuals, organizations and States. Unmistakably, cybercrime poses the biggest threat to the digital society (van de Weijer & Leukfeldt, 2017). Whereas the cost of cybercrime in 2015 was valued at $3 trillion (Cybersecurity Ventures, 2017), Forbes (2017) conjecture that that figure will double to approximately $6 trillion per year on average through 2021.

Extant literature have discussed cybercrime in various perspectives, for example, its impact (Ananthakrishnan, Li, & Smith, 2015; Riek, Abramova, & Böhme, 2017), detection and defensive measures in the fight against cybercrime (Biswas, Pal, & Mukhopadhyay, 2016; Tapanainen, 2017; Zhang, Lee, & Wang, 2016), law enforcement, strategies and prevention (Alanezi & Brooks, 2014; Ju, Cho, Lee, & Ahn, 2016; Kolini & Janczewski, 2017). Even though these studies are only a few of what exists in the respective themes, a preliminary review indicated that very few of these studies had been done with particular focus on the socioeconomic drivers behind the commission of cyber offences especially in developing economies.

According to the ITU (2012) The term “cybercrime” is used to describe a range of offences including traditional computer crimes, as well as network crimes. As these crimes differ in many ways, there is no single criterion that could include all acts mentioned in the different regional and international legal approaches to address the issue, while excluding traditional crimes that are just facilitated by using hardware. Such crimes may include hacking, bullying, identity theft, confidence romance, advanced fee fraud, among others. Riek and Böhme (2018) for instance posited that losses as a result of cybercrime are driven mainly by scams and extortion in Germany and identity thefts in the UK. Italian, Estonian, and Polish consumers on the other end, lose considerably less money to cyber-criminals, even though they spend less money and time on protection. Whereas this development is relative to the western countries, the situation is not entirely different in Africa. Cross (2018) for instance asserts that Nigeria has become synonymous with online fraud, with advance fee fraud (AFF) dominating in recent decades.

Consequently, Nigeria ranked as the leading State in the region for the conducting of malicious Internet activities (Aransiola & Asindemade, 2011; Longe & Chiemeke, 2008; Quarshie & Martin-Odoom, 2012). That notwithstanding, many countries in the continent have developed legislation to fight cyber-threats. They have also strengthened enforcement measure as well as engage private sector efforts to enhance cybersecurity (Kshetri, 2017). In East Africa for example, a task force comprising government, industry and civic groups have been set up to deal with cybersecurity at the three levels of legal, policy, and regulation. While the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have initiated policies in capacity-building, prioritising cybercrime issues and developing networks across the borders as a definite way in fighting cybercrime (Quarshie & Martin-Odoom, 2012).

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