Virtual Crimes – Real Damages: A Primer on Cybercrimes in the United States and Efforts to Combat Cybercriminals

73 Pages Posted: 24 Mar 2011 Last revised: 2 Jan 2013

See all articles by Fernando M. Pinguelo

Fernando M. Pinguelo

Seton Hall University School of Law; SCARINCI HOLLENBECK, LLC; eLessons Learned Blog; Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie; Fulbright Foundation

Bradford W. Muller

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: February 1, 2011


A dangerous aspect of the Internet Age that all businesses and government agencies must effectively counteract is cybercrime. As technology advances, so do the criminals. Recent media coverage of the attacks on corporate websites in response to the lockdown on WikiLeaks and its founder has renewed public focus on the vulnerabilities of corporate IT security and the profile of cybercriminals. While the recent cyber strikes on Amazon, PayPal, and MasterCard may not have been as debilitating as some other more elaborate schemes, the assault demonstrates how quickly a group of loosely affiliated hackers can mobilize behind a cause – or in the case of Julian Assange, a martyr – and bring about significant inconvenience, if not considerable damage.

For American businesses, and government at the federal and state levels, the potential cost of these attacks is staggering. President Obama has made the stakes clear, arguing that the “cyber threat is one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation” and “America’s economic prosperity in the 21st century will depend on cybersecurity.” In this article, we endeavor to explain what cybercrimes are, profile the cybercriminal, provide a discussion of some of the most common forms of cybercrimes affecting American businesses and the federal and state governments today, and discuss action that the government and businesses are taking to fight back.

Keywords: cybercrime, Wikileaks, cyber, computer crime

Suggested Citation

Pinguelo, Fernando M. and Muller, Bradford W., Virtual Crimes – Real Damages: A Primer on Cybercrimes in the United States and Efforts to Combat Cybercriminals (February 1, 2011). Virginia Journal of Law and Technology, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN:

Fernando M. Pinguelo

Seton Hall University School of Law ( email )

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Bradford W. Muller (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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