The traditional village market has been replaced by the global digital market. The internet has transformed trading of goods, services and commodities fundamentally. However the same problems of fraud that were witnessed in the village market have crept into the digital realm.
Online fraud can be defined as any activity that involves the obtaining of other people’s money or assets by misrepresentation or deception. These fraudulent schemes are been propagated by online criminals who try to present goods and services that look, as much as possible, like those that legitimate e-commerce merchants offer.
To be able to further understand the complexity and magnitude of online fraud one has to examine the risks that are to be found in the e-business context. The continued presence of these risks enhances the growth of online fraud.
To surmount these risks and attendant problems, online investigators can use profiling techniques to assist them in monitoring and identifying online fraudsters.
Profiling, in the context of forensic computing, is a useful tool of investigation. Profiling can be broadly defined as the prediction of an individual’s characteristics, crime scene assessment and the provision of investigative advice based on practical detective expertise; behavioural science theory, and statistical analysis of solved case information.
Profiling in sum typically includes identifying personality traits, behavioural tendencies and demographic tendencies.
Profiling can be used to distinct online fraudsters from other online offenders like stalkers and sexual predators. By the use of profiling it would be possible to predict and outline the online fraudster’s behavioural characteristics.
This would be possible because profiling is based on Locard's Principle of Exchange which stipulates that anyone who perpetuates a crime or enters a crime scene both takes something from the scene with them and leaves something of them behind.
These clues can be used to develop a profile of an offender in both the physical and digital contexts.
Various profiling approaches can be used and they include determining the signature pattern, determining the modus operandi (method of operation), diagnostic evaluation, investigative psychology, digital crime scene analysis, and geographic profiling.
For example this technique can be used to identify the serial online sexual predators that prey on our youth especially at the Coast.