The McMaster Silhouette
Thursday, December 3, 1999
page A3

Caught in the act of fraud

by Anna Zavodni

Photocopy fees seem to be leading some students into a life of crime.

Last Thursday, a McMaster student was caught in the act of trying to use a fraudulent photocopy card in the copy room of the engineering building. The incident has sparked an investigation by Security Services, who are still in the process of tracing the origin of the card.

"The card was not programmed according to the standard procedure as established at the bookstore", said Bill Armstrong, operations manager of Security Services. "The card does not appear normal, and any legitimate user would have known that it was a phoney."

Security feels certain that the suspect did not manufacture the card, which has since been confiscated.

"A very small minority of people will try to beat any system", said Graham Hill, university librarian at Mills. "The manufacturer who provides the cards to us maintains a constant vigilance on the security of these cards. The overall vending and use of the copy card will probably not undergo any major exterior changes."

Based on the evidence currently available, a number of possibilities exist as to what charges could be laid.

As defined by the Criminal Code of Canada, the individual caught with the counterfeit card could face charges of theft, fraud, and the possession of a device to obtain computer services illegally.

Armstrong also cautioned students that when an individual is convicted in court, he or she receives a permanent criminal record. The perpetrator also faces expulsion from the university. Either of these actions could destroy the individual's future career opportunities.

In contemplation of the offense, students on campus expressed differing attitudes in response to the incident.

"It brings up the cost for everyone else", said Jen Mears, a third-year sociology student. "I wouldn't do it out of the fear of getting caught. Ten cents is not a lot, and [theft] is wrong."

Other individuals expressed less definite views on this issue.

"I think that it's understandable", said Kathy Konstantinitis, a second-year social sciences student. "Considering all of the money that we pay for tuition and books, people don't have enough money for these things."

Amy Dodd, also a second-year social sciences student, had no personal opposition to using a fake card.

"I know that it's kind of bad, but I'd still do it anyway", said Dodd. "I'd be deterred if there was a severe penalty, so I think that the penalty would send a message to others who might be willing to follow in the footsteps [of the individual who was caught]."

Copyright © 1999 by The McMaster Silhoutte. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission.