Research Key

Scamming as an offence in Cameroon

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1 .1 Background of the Study

Prior to the arrival of Information and Communication Technology  in Sub Sahara Africa, Africa was seen as a dark continent. The development of Information and Communication Technology was expected to connect Africa with the rest of the world. The rapid diffusion of the internet and its trajectory strongly brings out the importance and influence the internet and other forms of Information and Communication Technologies have on all world sectors. Blind . Wartalia and Jenning[1]indicated that the information and communication technologies especially the internet has not only affected the world economies as a whole, but have also impacted the society at large including political systems worldwide.

Furthermore, Collins and Halverson[2] viewed that his exposure leapfrogged several technologically backward regions of the world like Africa, which was regarded as backwards, into the world of Information and Communication Technology. These new technologies increased opportunities for several marginalized groups, also allowing them to share in a knowledge base that was once reserved for a selected few in developed countries.2 All around us people are learning with the aid of new technologies: children are playing complex video games, workers are interacting with simulations that put them in challenging situations, students are taking courses online in high schools and colleges, and adults are consulting Wikipedia. New technologies create learning.[3]

Opportunities that challenge traditional schools and colleges. These new learning techniques enable people of all ages to pursue learning on their own terms. People around the world are taking their education out of school into homes, libraries, Internet cafes, and workplaces, where they can decide what they want to learn, when they want to learn, and how they want to learn.[4]

This leap by the supposed ‘‘backward regions’’ has not come without a heavy price to the world at large. As Akuta et al put it, while the world enjoys the benefits of Information and Communication Technologies especially the internet, it has also been confronted with this heavy price which has been referred to as the unintended consequences of Information and Communication Technologies that is cybercrime.[5]

It is realized that the dollar amount lost to cybercrime annually is significantly more than the annual global market for marijuana, cocaine, and heroin combined, thus the need for concern.[6] In Cameroon, illegal activities propagated through  negative exploitation of the Information Communication Technologies have several characteristics (with new types emerging every day) depending on who and where the target is located on the globe. For example the Embassy of the United States, Yaoundé, Cameroon, describe some of the versions of scamming originating from Cameroon as child adoption scams; wildlife scams (including parrots, dogs and monkeys); and business scams (involving vegetable oils wishing to supply raw materials for bio-fuels industries) with never-ending strings requesting money.[7]

Furthermore, other common place versions of scams originating elsewhere targeting Cameroonians and others include conference, job, business proposal and lottery letter scams in addition to websites mimicking official authentic websites of institutions (mainly financial) requesting personal information.  The end point of scamming is to extort money from victims either directly (face-to-face) or through bank transfers.[8]

Cameroon is ranked as the riskiest nation in the world for online trade. Because of this surge in cybercrime perpetration, like several countries, Cameroon is executing efforts to solve this problem. New laws and policies are being passed, software is being developed and cyber security equipment are being purchased to enhance the fight against cybercrime.[9]

To do this, the study was limited to Cameroon because of its uniqueness in the cybercrime surge, and was designed to provide policy makers both at local and international levels with an in-depth knowledge on how the use of a good understanding of cybercrime perpetrators’ perceptions in combating cybercrime can be of importance to craft and implement cybercrime laws and policies that will reduce the rate of cybercrime perpetration in Cameroon.[10]

1.2 Statement of the Problem

The contribution of internet to the development of the nation has been marred by evolution of new waves of crime. The problem is that internet has become an environment where the most safest and lucrative crime thrives.Cyber crime has become a global threat from Europe to America, Africa to Asia.[11]

Due to the high crime wave in the country a statute was enacted in December 2010, that is, Law No. 2010/012 of December 2010[12] relating to cyber security and cyber criminality in Cameroon. The issue is that there are many loopholes in the law. For instance, its Section 52 sub section 3 states ‘‘Criminal Investigation Officers and authorized officials of the Agency, May in the course of investigation, have access to means of transport, any professional premises, with the exception of private residences, with a view to seeking and recording

Offences requesting the production of all professional documents and taking copies thereof and gathering any information and evidence, upon a summons or in situ”. The issue here is that the Investigation Officers face a lot of challenges during investigation.

There are lots of difficulties in charging cyber criminals with crime. This is due to the fact that most at times evidence of the crimes is erased. And in criminal suits the prosecutor must prove its case beyond reasonable doubts; this cannot be possible where there is no evidence. Therefore the perpetrators still get back to the streets and continue to commit crime.

With respect to investigative challenges encountered, many countries opened their remarks on law enforcement cybercrime investigations by highlighting an increasing level of criminal sophistication, for example, attacks are becoming more and more advanced, more and more difficult to detect, and at the same time the techniques quickly find their way to a broader audience. Digital components become of more and more importance in basically every crime. Another country emphasized that ‘increases in the incidence of cybercrime offences are being driven by the advancement of technical and programmatic tools available to attackers underpinned by an illicit market for the commercialization of tools for committing cybercrime.[13]

Increasing levels of sophistication bring increased challenges in areas such as locating electronic evidence; use of obfuscation techniques by perpetrators; challenges with large volumes of data for analysis; and challenges with obtaining data from service providers. At a basic investigative level, for example, digital storage and connectivity are increasingly integrated into common household and personal items, such as pens, cameras, watches with flash storage and USB jewellery flash drives. In addition, wireless storage devices may be hidden in wall cavities, ceilings and floor spaces. As noted by one country, such physical and electronic ‘ease of concealment’ of computer data can present difficulties for investigations. Problems of deletion of data storage devices, where perpetrators use online communication services, computer data may flow directly from user to user and not through service provider servers, meaning that only local copies of certain data are available and vulnerable to subsequent deletion.

In addition, perpetrators may make use of ‘dead-dropping’ of messages in draft folders of webmail accounts allowing communication without a ‘sent’ email, combined with use of free public Wi-Fi access points, or pre-paid mobile and credit cards. Also challenges such as ‘pinpointing location’ due to ‘availability of numerous free access points. Many countries also reported the use of encryption and obfuscation techniques by perpetrators.[14]

Despite the fact that there are many records of cybercrimes, a lot of youths get involved in the crime. Individuals as well as companies are victims, most often the perpetrators are not reprimanded but instead they still move freely on the streets and continue causing damage. They are criminals but the society does not look at them as regular criminals for example a person who physically rubs somebody on the streets or a shop and is caught will be reprimanded immediately. On the other hand, most often cyber criminals are well known by the society but nobody does anything about it therefore the criminal activities go on and on.

The findings above are worrisome and in order to provide solution to the problems stated above, the study intends to look at the sociological and technological factors influencing cyber crime and cyber security.

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