CRIMINALS USE VIDEO GAMES TO COMMIT CRIMES: The world wide web is ubiquitous and fairly easy to monitor by LEOs. Only "amateur" criminals use websites for organizing their crimes. Criminals that understand how to use technology regardless of the type of device (computer, cell phone, Smartphone, game console), or software (web
browser, p2p software, ftp client, irc client, newsreader) used, have been flying under the radar of local LEAs technology crimes units for years. Thousands of crimes are committed daily using technology other than a typical computer and web browser. Game consoles have become the new technology of choice for sex offenders and predators. The Sony PS3, Microsoft XBox 360, and the Nintendo Wii, all are Internet enabled. These units have the ability to not only play games at home, but also play against other console owners via the Internet. These systems also allow one-to-one messaging (email) and chat (one-to-one or one-to-many) between console owners, including the sending of pictures and video via the console.
Game consoles are actually computers designed to perform a specific task very well. Play games. When they became Internet enabled a few years ago (easy to implement on the now
ultra powerful game consoles), the criminal minded were among the first to see the benefit of using them for crime, the primary one of being able to avoid typical local law enforcement
detection. How may of us have served a search warrant for computers and left behind the XBox, Playstation, or Wii because it was a game machine? How many sex offender probation orders prohibit the offender from having a "computer" but not a game console or a device like an iPhone or Blackberry because they are not thought of as a computer? How many local LEA computer forensic examiners have any experience in examining these devices?
The article on abcnews.com, published last Friday and linked below, is a good case study on what is really going on in the game console world. The same thing happens daily using
portable, battery operated devices like an iPhone, Blackberry, netbook, Nintendo DS or Sony PSP. Most of us are just not aware of the scope of the criminal activity using "non-computers," or how to go about even working it as we don't think like and are not as techno-savvy, as a typical tween or teen. Scary, huh?
Source: Alachua County Sheriff's Office - Criminal Intelligence Unit, 16 March 2009
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