Bankers say Ohio law lacks teeth to prosecute attempted cybercrimes

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Desco Federal Credit Union CEO Lee Powell was stunned: Neither the FBI nor his county prosecutor could charge a person caught hacking into his computer with a “serious crime.” 

The disgruntled former employee didn’t get any customer data. The credit union’s security system caught the perpetrator. But without any monetary damages to claim, Powell was told there wasn’t much of a case. 

“I asked whether attempted murder was a crime or if they waited for the person to be successful to prosecute,” Powell said. “He didn’t like that, but I was trying to make what I thought was a valid point.”

Ohio law has two existing offenses when it comes to attempted computer crimes: criminal mischief and unauthorized use of a computer. They’re what prosecutors call damage focused, which means the punishments hinge on monetary loss. For example, a hacker has to cause $10,000 worth of damages to be charged with a fourth-degree felony for criminal mischief.

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