The Internet has made life easier for just about everyone, including those who would use the World Wide Web to engage in illegal activities. With all the attention focused on “cybercrime,” it’s important to understand what types of activities authorities are monitoring, so that you don’t take actions that lead to your arrest for online crimes.
At the Law Offices of Gregg Wisotsky, Attorney at Law, I have more than 25 years of experience handling a wide range of criminal matters, including online crimes. I offer a free phone consultation to every new client. Call me at 973-735-0232 or contact my office online for a private meeting.
The Most Common Cybercrimes
Perhaps the most prevalent online criminal violations involves what is commonly referred to as “identity theft.” Identity theft occurs when a person assumes the identity of another, customarily using personal information, such as Social Security Number, credit card information or financial data, and obtains a personal/financial benefit from the unauthorized use of that information. There are a number of ways that someone can illegally obtain information, including:
- Phishing, where an e-mail message or a web page has encoded means of gathering passwords or other private information
- Spoofing, where you are sent a fake e-mail or directed to a fake website
- The use of computer viruses
Another common criminal use of the Internet involves the creation of scams or fraudulent schemes. It can be as simple as offering bogus goods and services, offering non-existent merchandise for sale. Frequently, fraudsters will offer you a substantial amount of money to be an “intermediary” in a financial transaction, typically involving an international transfer of funds. In many instances, they will even mail you a “cashier’s check,” which will turn out to be bogus, but only after they have taken funds from your account.
Authorities also commit a significant amount of time and resources to investigating instances of cyberstalking, particularly of minors. Cyberstalkers customarily adopt false personas and attempt to make contact with naïve or impressionable individuals through social networking websites. Cyberstalkers are frequently sexual predators, or fraudsters who prey on unsuspecting victims.
The possession, dissemination or sale of child pornography online is also the subject of serious and concerted efforts by law enforcement officials. Because the standard for determining pornography is fuzzy at best, and you can never be certain of the age of a model, it is best to never use e-mail or other online sources to send or obtain images that have any prurient appeal.
Another way that unsuspecting individuals can run afoul of the law involves the unauthorized use of intellectual property, such as trademarks and copyrights. Both are protected by federal law, and the simple fact that something appears on the Internet does not mean that it is in the public domain. Don’t copy or use images unless you know who owns the intellectual property and have their permission. Don’t copy music, movies or pictures from less than reputable sources.
I offer a free phone consultation to every prospective client. For a complimentary evaluation of your case, contact my office online or call me at 973-735-0232. I will come to your home or in detention to meet with you, if necessary. All major credit cards are accepted.