As the Internet has expanded and become more accessible, Broward County residents from all walks of life have been introduced to a virtual world of new opportunities. Everyone who has used the Internet can appreciate the ways our lives have changed as a result of having online access, from the ability to work jobs remotely, to shopping online, instantly being able to conduct research on any subject, to easily and cost-efficiently communicating throughout Florida and beyond. The internet has also expanded the opportunities criminals have to commit crimes, and Naples and Fort Lauderdale Internet crimes lawyers have seen an uptick in the number of these cases in recent years.
Internet crimes take on many different forms. Use of the internet as a necessary tool for execution is the one recurring component every internet crime shares with all others.
Florida Internet theft crimes
Internet theft is a broad category that encompasses crimes that involve a perpetrator stealing something from the victim. Examples of internet theft schemes include:
- online seller fraud
- collecting personal data from social media
The way in which criminals go about Internet theft depends on their objective. Phishing scams and identity theft often go hand in hand as criminals use phishing scams as a means of soliciting personal information. Spam emails seek to convince recipients to participate in what appears to be an extremely rare, beneficial opportunity, but is typically an attempt to defraud victims of their money by promising a product, service, or benefit the victim never receives.
Do not say anything that might incriminate you. Speak with an attorney first.
Online classified scams and event ticket schemes are common examples of seller fraud. Classified ad scams are particularly common on sites that allow sellers to list their automobiles for sale. Fraudsters sometimes pose as sellers who have an automobile for sale. The truth is these people do not have an automobile to offer. Instead, they steal photos of other vehicles online and post the vehicles as their own and include a description and price. When interested buyers contact the person behind the listing, they are often told the vehicle is overseas and needs to be shipped or that there is some other condition that must be met before showing the vehicle. The fraudulent seller then requests a deposit to pay to ship the vehicle or to otherwise remedy the obstacle to making the car or truck available. If the buyer sends the money, the fraudster keeps the deposit and never delivers the vehicle. Websites through which private sellers are able to resell event tickets are also targets for fraudulent sellers who sell counterfeit event tickets that buyers later discover cannot be redeemed to gain access to the event.
Blackmail is often equated with extortion; however, it is only one example of how the crime takes place. Hackers now extort corporations, government agencies, and sometimes private citizens by hacking into their computer networks and either stealing important data or restricting access to the victim’s computer system. Web cams are also targeted by hackers who attempt to gain access to unsuspecting people’s computer webcams to record private activities and use the footage for blackmail. Hackers typically demand money in the form of bitcoin in exchange for not utilizing the sensitive data in a way that would hurt the victim’s business or for releasing the restricted computer system and allowing the victim to regain access. In some cases, the victims oblige, and the hackers do not uphold their end of the offer they made and carry through with the threatened action.
Spamming, or sending unsolicited email, may be considered to be annoying, but harmless. On the contrary, spammers also use what might appear to be sales emails as a delivery mechanism for Trojan horse viruses, malware, and links to sites that extract visitors’ personal information. The dangerous files and links that are usually included in spam typically aid the spammers in executing another cyber crime like online extortion, credit card fraud, or identity theft.
Another way criminals obtain data that can later be used in identity theft or hacking schemes is through phishing. Spoofed email addresses and instant messenger handles are the most common examples of phishing. An unsuspecting person will receive an email or a message that looks like it came from their bank or credit card company. The message may ask for the person’s log-in credentials, full name, address, date of birth, or any other information that can be used to access another person’s account or even order a new card in a different name.
Online social platforms provide credit card fraudsters and identity thieves with the information they need to impersonate credit and bank account owners. Criminals will sometimes build profiles of their potential victims to keep track of the data they have been able to collect. Credit card companies and banks often ask for the account holder’s date of birth, mother’s maiden name, and ZIP code before permitting access to the owner’s account. Much of the information customer service representatives request is often available on potential victims’ social media pages.
Why you need an a criminal attorney after being charged
In some cases, a person may be accused of a Internet crime as a result of mistaken identity or due to making an attempt to access another person’s information without fraudulent intent. For example, a person whose computer is infected with a virus may accidentally send an email with a virus attached. Someone else may take information from social media to use a family member’s credit card under the mistaken belief that he or she had authorization to use the card. A Fort Lauderdale Internet crimes defense attorney from Joffe Law, P.A. can help those who have been wrongfully accused in Florida clear their name and potentially avoid jail or prison time. Our attorneys defend clients in Naples, Broward County and throughout Florida.