It may seem that in the digital world it is safer to go beyond the law than in the real one: it is easier to destroy the traces of a crime, and there are not so many specialists of the required profile in the authorities. In fact, this is not the case. I served for seven years in the preliminary investigation (investigative committee, Ministry of Internal Affairs) and investigated many crimes in the field of information technology. In this article I will tell you what to expect and how to alleviate your fate if you come to the attention of law enforcement agencies.
Hopefully, you are reading this article out of curiosity and not out of necessity!
Types of crimes
IT crimes are very diverse. I will highlight the main ones that you have to deal with almost every day.
Theft using information technology
This category includes phishing scams, theft of funds from accounts, including carding.
Drug trafficking crimes
It was soon ten years after the illegal Silk Road market appeared, and since then, the fight against anonymous marketplaces has not subsided around the world. There are still adventurers who believe that no one will find their online store. It is enough to look at the statistics, and you will see how many similar businesses are covered up every year – these are huge numbers; But you can easily serve a quarter of a century for selling drugs in the Russian Federation!
Purchase of special means
This and the next item are called "people's articles", and here's why. The law enforcement system loves statistics: the more people are held accountable, the better – bonuses, awards, ranks of employees depend on this.
Several years ago, there was a bug in the legislation that made it possible to prosecute “geeks” who buy mobile phones, GPS beacons, microcameras that are not licensed in the Russian Federation – for the purchase of funds to secretly obtain information.
Everyone has heard about the terms for "memasics" or "reposts". Now they are not so fierce under this article, and yet hundreds of people have already received their, albeit suspended, sentences and convictions.
Creation, distribution of malware or illegal access to computer information
This is already a real hacker article, and quite rare. The less common a crime is, the more interesting it is for statistics. So if you come to the attention of the authorities in connection with something like that, then they will “develop” you harder than usual.
Distribution of child pornography
Torrent lovers run into this lineup: downloaded and forgot to delete – consider that you are already committing a crime. Caught malware and transferred your PC to a botnet? They will come for you.
Our authorities "calculate by IP" without any jokes. Anyone who is caught in this way, most likely, turns out to be not a malicious hacker, but an innocent lover of cracked programs. Nevertheless, the matter will not do without the withdrawal of equipment.
I would like to emphasize that under the Criminal Code, fraud, theft, and drug trafficking through the Internet entail heavier sanctions than the same crimes committed without the use of information technology.
Cybercrimes are more difficult to solve, so not so long ago they were "aggravated" – now these compositions are grave and especially grave. So for the theft of two thousand rubles from the pocket of your bag, you will sit on a "recognizance not to leave" during the preliminary investigation and get off with a suspended sentence, and if you stole two thousand from a bank card account, you can easily be arrested and get a very real term of up to ten years old.
Time is against you
If you crossed the line of the law (through inattention or intentionally), then neither tomorrow nor the day after tomorrow, most likely, they will not come for you. Even the operational units are burdened with bureaucratic requirements and do not always live up to their name and act promptly.
In addition, in all textbooks on operational-search activities, it is recommended not to rush, but to thoroughly gain a foothold in the evidence. If you catch the attacker too early, then all the work can go down the drain: there will not be enough evidence and he will have to be released.
Law enforcement officers are not always smarter than a criminal, but they know how to wait. I've seen cases where cybercriminals have been developed for over a year. Sooner or later, the attacker will lose vigilance and make an obvious mistake. Here it is possible to impute to him at once the totality of crimes. After all, each theft or other action is a separate crime, and it is always more profitable for the authorities to attract a person for 10–20 crimes than for one.
How can law enforcement agencies find out about you at all?
The first "thread" can come from anywhere: informants, data from providers, some analytical results of traffic, or messages from citizens about an illegal action committed against them.
What are the signs that you can understand that you are “under the hood”? The main tool is intuition. But there are also more objective signs.
- Your phone started working strangely; there are suspicions that you are being bugged.
- “New friends” appear who are interested in your activities.
- Strangers ask your neighbors about you – they can be employees of the authorities.
If you really do something wrong, then you may still have a chance to stop in time. However, if the officers of the authorities began to interview neighbors or relatives openly, it means that the development of you is approaching the final stage and there is already a verification material that is being prepared to be handed over to the investigator to initiate a criminal case.
Checking before the initiation of a criminal case
Before opening a criminal case, law enforcement agencies consider the material of the check. If such material exists, it means that law enforcement agencies already have information about a possible crime.
One tactic is to collect all the evidence at this stage so that the investigation of the criminal case does not drag out. Sometimes, after considering the material of the check, the investigator can only process and send the criminal case to the court.
The trick is that the check lasts up to 30 days, then the employee issues a formal decision to refuse to initiate a criminal case, the prosecutor cancels this decision and the check period begins anew. Thus, one can consider the material of the verification and look for evidence for a long time: I saw the materials of the verification five years ago, and this is not at all uncommon.