Crime and Theory


Between 2010 and 2011, a 23year old Edward Pearson from New York Stole 200,000 PayPal account details, 8 million identities and 2,700 bank card numbers in Northern England. He used malware ZeuS and SpyEye to suit his purpose and managed to hack into the PayPal website and websites of Nokia and AOL that remained down for two weeks. According to his lawyer, he was not interested in stealing money but it was an intellectual challenge. He was jailed for 26 moths for committing a cyber crime on April, 2012. This paper will cover cyber crime and the theory that best describes why Edward Pearson committed the crime (Cole, 2011).


Cybercrime refers to any criminal activity done by use of computers and the internet. It includes activities such as downloading music files that are illegal and stealing money from online bank accounts. Cybercrime also involves non-monetary offences such as creating and also disturbing viruses on other computers and also posting of business information on the internet that is confidential. The most conspicuous form of cyber crime is theft of identity whereby criminals use the internet in order to steal personal information from other users. Most of the common ways in which it is done is through pharming and phishing (Cole, 2011).


Routine Activity Theory

A crime occurs where there is convergence of three elements that includes a likely offender, a target that is suitable, and the absence of capable guardians. Convergence in both space and time of fit targets with the absence of capable guardians can lead to increase in cyber crime rates even with the lack of increase of motivated offenders (Ross, 2010).


A motivated offender is someone with criminal inclinations and has got the ability to carry out such criminal inclinations. A likely offender makes an active decision in order to commit a crime. Their actions are determined by their rational choice and also assessment of the situation. They take into account the relative costs and benefits even before they commit a crime. Therefore, a motivated offender engages in cyber crime (Ross, 2010).


Routine Activity Theory teaches that, a crime will occur when a motivated offender finds a suitable target. The target could be a place, a person or an object. These targets could be found almost everywhere in daily lives; thus not all of them are suitable targets in the eyes of motivated offenders. According to Cohen and Felson, there are four main components of target suitability. Such components are value, visibility, access, and inertia. For example, million of dollars lures the offenders to steal money from online bank accounts. Access to the login information drives the offenders to commit cyber crime (Engdahl, 2010).


Absence of the capable guardian is an important factor that is taken into consideration by a motivated offender. An offender commits a crime after assessing the possibility of being arrested and the punishment that is likely to follow against the likely benefits of the criminal act. However, Routine Activity theory faces some drawbacks as it puts little emphasis on why some offenders or organizations are prone to commit the crime (Cole, 2011).


In my opinion cybercrime, covers a broad scope of criminal activities. The above-mentioned examples are just but a few of the thousands of crimes that are deemed as cyber crimes. Computers and the Internet have been making life easier in different ways. However, it is so unfortunate that some few people take advantage of these technologies to exploit others. Therefore, it is advisable for Internet users to protect themselves by using spyware blocking software and antivirus and being careful where one enters personal information.



Cybercrime has increasingly become a threat with advancement in technology to internet users. There are thousands of cyber crimes that take place now and then. The study of cybercrime is still at an early age. Every new technology and new application creates an opportunity that criminals will seek to exploit. In order to keep abreast of the cybercrime, it is crucial to keep track on the evolution of crime forms that criminal activities take.




An EU cybercrime centre to fight online criminals and protect e-consumers. (2012, March 28). States News Service. Retrieved January 8, 2015, from

Cole G.F., Smith, C.E., DeJong, C. (2011). Criminal Justice in
America, Seventh Edition. Wadsworth Cengage Learning, Belmont
California. ISBN13: 978-1-285-06766-7

Engdahl, S. (2010). Cybercrime. Farmington Hills, MI: Greenhaven Press.

Ross, J. (2010). Cybercrime. New York: Chelsea House.




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