Worried you or your organization has been targeted by cybercriminals or your computer is being used for criminal activities? You are not alone. In 2019, the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) registered 1,300 complaints per day on average. Individuals and businesses lost a staggering US$3.5 billion to computer frauds and cybercrimes. These instances can result in you being falsely accused and tried on criminal grounds or cause you financial losses. The best way to deal with these situations is by contacting and consulting a computer and internet fraud attorney. Computer fraud lawyers understand the technicalities of legal and technological aspects at play in such situations and protect your rights and interests in such cases.
Computer fraud and abuse encompass wide-ranging activities. The use of any computer or system connected to the internet for defrauding victims or obtaining protected information is termed computer and internet fraud. Typically, criminals commit these acts to steal bank account information, personal information, or other online assets. This information is then sold or transacted for money or other financial gains. With technology changing and advancing rapidly, the culprit and sometimes the crime is difficult to detect. Consequently, everyone connected to the internet is vulnerable and a prospective target for cybercriminals.
Before we delve deeper into understanding the laws around computer and internet fraud, let’s take a look at the most common types of frauds you may be subjected to:
One of the most common types of internet fraud, phishing, also known as smishing, vishing, and pharming, involves criminals using fake emails masked as coming from legitimate businesses to drive unsuspected recipients into divulging sensitive information such as credit card numbers, personal information, passwords, bank information, etc. These emails contain either contain infected attachments or redirect recipients to malicious sites to gather their personal information. By doing so, fraudsters undermine the recipient’s security or the organization they work for. The information is then either used to blackmail an individual or to hurt them monetarily.
Malware is software intended to infect a computer by damaging its data or using the system to commit other criminal activities. The software disables computers or restricts access to the internet. By doing so, the criminals scare the victims and solicit funds from them to undo the damage.
A form of malware, ransomware restricts users or organizations from accessing critical data or solutions. It does so by encrypting sensitive data on the computer it is executed on. Ransomware is spread to organizations and individuals using phishing emails. The criminals or ransomware users then demand funds from the victims, generally in cryptocurrency, to release the critical data and sensitive information they are withholding from the users.
Identity theft is one of the most common computer frauds that occur in the United States. It occurs when a person uses a networked device to steal the victim’s personal information and use it for illegal activities. Generally, the technique is used to gain access to the victim’s bank account or credit cards and used by criminals to financially benefit from the information that they steal.
Other computer and internet crimes include money laundering, credit card fraud, denial of service, data breaches, email account compromise, altering computer data, investment fraud, internet extortion, investment fraud, etc.
Enacted in 1986, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) is the primary federal law that deals with computer and internet frauds. The law deems illegal activities involving a computer or other digital devices a federal crime. Initially, the law was drafted to protect federal information stored on federal computers and other bank and financial details the government wanted to protect. Later on, the law was expanded to protect all the computers connected to the internet and involved in interstate and foreign business and commerce.
The CFAA broadly deems the following actions as federal crimes:
Most computer and internet frauds are adjudged based on CFAA as these crimes involve more than one state. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the government agency typically in charge of working and dealing with computer fraud and internet crimes. A person found guilty of committing a crime stated under the CFAA is either asked to pay a fine or imprisoned or both depending on the nature and severity of their crime. On average, a person guilty of first offenses is charged US$ 5000 per crime and can be imprisoned for up to 10 years.
Hiring a computer and internet fraud lawyer will benefit you in the following ways:
Have you been a victim of computer and internet fraud? Or falsely accused of committing an internet crime. A seasoned computer fraud attorney can help you in either case. Fill out the form provided alongside, and find the computer fraud lawyer best suited to your case.