Internet scams and online fraud have grown rapidly since the beginning of the world wide web, and these schemes have grown increasingly sophisticated over the years. Many of these scams come in the form of spoofing and phishing, which occurs when individuals are tricked into providing personal or financial information that will be used to commit credit card, bank fraud and other forms of identity theft.
Spoofing is a crime covered under Internet Fraud law, and may be punishable by jail/state prison, federal prison, probation, restitution, loss of employment, fines and more.
Some of the most common types of internet scams include:
- Identity theft: Hackers can use malware or intrusive software to obtain someone's personal information in order to steal their identity.
- Investment fraud: An individual may mislead another person into investing in a venture or company that does not exist.
- Credit card fraud: A person can claim to need credit card or bank information by posing as a financial institution. When this information is obtained, they can use your credit cards to make purchases.
- Online shopping and auction fraud: This often includes sellers pretending to sell products or providing an inferior product just so they can obtain payment.
- Charity scams: This can involve soliciting donations for a fake charity or pretending to work for a legitimate charity and collecting money for it.
- Online dating scams: Users can create fake dating profiles so that they can establish a relationship with someone in order to obtain money.
- Work-from-home scams: These schemes involve the promise of a job opportunity with initial payment upfront - but do not actually provide a job as a result.
- Lottery and sweepstakes scams: Often in the form of an email or text message, these schemes claim that you have won a lot of money, but need to provide personal details in order to claim your prize.
Those who are charged with internet crimes will face serious repercussions under the law, and may be put on trial against federal or international prosecutors. In a recent case, a 17-year-old high school student living in his parent's home in California defrauded unwitting investors of more than $1 million in an online scam. Even though he is considered a juvenile, the court will likely punish him to the full extent of the law.
If you have been charged with any type of internet fraud crime, you need to act quickly to defend your rights against harsh prosecution. You need a criminal defense attorney who will fight aggressively to defend your rights and who will not back down from a challenge. Contact a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer at Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP to learn more about how a legal expert may help you reduce or dismiss your criminal charges.