What Is a Computer Manipulation Crime?

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Computer manipulation refers to the use or manipulation of a computer to perpetrate a crime. Computer manipulation crimes are often referred to as computer fraud crimes.

Fraud by Input Manipulation

Fraud by input manipulation occurs where false or misleading data are input into a computer to achieve a specific criminal purpose: for example, decreasing the amounts entered into a store inventory database to hide the theft of a product.

Fraud by Output Manipulation

Fraud by output manipulation occurs where data or software is input into a computer in order to affect what the computer outputs: for example, using a stolen bank account number to make unauthorized withdrawals from an ATM.

Computer Forgery

Computer forgery occurs whenever a computer is used to create a fraudulent document or illegally alter an otherwise legal document: for example, using a computer to create a fake identification badge.

Fraud by Program Manipulation

Program manipulation occurs when data or software in a program is altered to commit or facilitate a crime. For example, software code known as "packet sniffers" can be added to a program to record valuable information passing across a network such as credit card access numbers.

Interesting Fact

On December 29, 2009, Albert Gonzalez pleaded guilty to perpetrating one of the largest computer fraud cases in history. Over a four-year period, Gonzalez and his accomplices, using program and output manipulation schemes, were able to steal more than 150 million credit card and ATM debit card numbers.


About the Author

Marcello Viridis has been "working in writing" for the past six years. Since publishing his first article in 2004, he has written on a range topics from working and living overseas for the Wall Street Journal's Black Collegian website to legal essays for the Encyclopedia of American Civil Liberties. Viridis has a B.A. from Pomona College and a J.D. from Lewis and Clark Law School.

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