The Canadian Privacy Law Blog: Developments in privacy law and writings of a Canadian privacy lawyer, containing information related to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (aka PIPEDA) and other Canadian and international laws.

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The author of this blog, David T.S. Fraser, is a Canadian privacy lawyer who practices with the firm of McInnes Cooper. He is the author of the Physicians' Privacy Manual. He has a national and international practice advising corporations and individuals on matters related to Canadian privacy laws.

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The views expressed herein are solely the author's and should not be attributed to his employer or clients. Any postings on legal issues are provided as a public service, and do not constitute solicitation or provision of legal advice. The author makes no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained herein or linked to. Nothing herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of competent counsel.

This web site is presented for informational purposes only. These materials do not constitute legal advice and do not create a solicitor-client relationship between you and David T.S. Fraser. If you are seeking specific advice related to Canadian privacy law or PIPEDA, contact the author, David T.S. Fraser.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Meth addicts' other habit: Online theft 

USA Today is running a lengthy article on the intersection between methamphetamine addiction and identity theft. The article, Meth addicts' other habit: Online theft, chonicles investigations that began in Edomonton and Calgary, Alberta and forcefully brought this connection to the attention of Canadian law enforcement.

Intersection of crimes

... What's happening in Edmonton is happening to one degree or another in communities across the USA and Canada — anywhere meth addicts are engaging in identity theft and can get on the Internet, say police, federal law enforcement officials and Internet security experts.

Internet Relay Chat channels, private areas on the Internet where real-time text messaging takes place, are rife with communications between organized cybercrime groups and meth users and traffickers discussing how they can assist each other. "It's big time," says San Diego-based security consultant Lance James, who monitors IRC channels.

Such collaboration seems almost preordained. "This hits at the intersection of two of the more complex law enforcement investigations: computer crimes and drug crimes," says Howard Schmidt, CEO of R&H Security Consulting and former White House cyber-security adviser.

Identity theft has fast become the crime of preference among meth users for three reasons: It is non-violent, criminal penalties for first-time offenders are light — usually a few days or weeks in jail — and the use of computers and the Internet offers crooks anonymity and speed with which to work. Meth is a cheap, highly addictive street derivative of amphetamine pills; it turns users into automatons willing to take on risky, street-level crime.

Meanwhile, global cybercrime groups control e-mail phishing attacks, keystroke-stealing Trojan horse programs and insider database thefts that swell the pool of stolen personal and financial information. They also have ready access to hijacked online-banking accounts. But converting assets in compromised accounts into cash is never easy. That's where the meth users come in.

Sophisticated meth theft rings, like the one in Edmonton, control local bank accounts — and underlings who are willing to extract ill-gotten funds from such accounts. The two men at the seedy motel were helping outside crime groups link up with local accounts under their control when a tipster guided police to them in December 2004....

The article is worth the read.

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