The internet connected computers from West Virginia to others all over the world. The anonymous nature of the web also created many new possibilities for criminal activity.
Most internet crimes, or cybercrimes, are just new methods of committing the same offenses that have existed since society began. Law enforcement is catching up quickly; they have added new statutes to address specific criminal endeavors, and federal court prosecutes many cybercrimes.
We believe that education and awareness of illegal internet activity is essential, especially considering the harshness of many federal sentences. We have outlined more common cybercrimes that you do not want to involve yourself inadvertently.
Criminals know how to use the internet to buy and sell almost anything illegal under the radar. According to FindLaw, many see the outrageous expense of pharmaceuticals as an opportunity to sell counterfeit drugs. Like making homemade meth, some choose to manufacture fake drugs to distribute via the internet.
Not only is counterfeiting illegal, but it is dangerous because the bottom line is more important than public safety. Unlike legitimate prescription medications, the FDA cannot regulate the production of fake drugs. To make money, counterfeiters can change or cut down on the active ingredients. It is also possible for the drugs to contain dangerous chemicals or be otherwise contaminated.
Phishing and identity theft
Phishing is an attempt to gain personal information via email by posing as a trustworthy entity, like a government agency or company. After phishers have information like social security numbers, bank account numbers and passwords, they can use them in many fraudulent ways.
It is very common for them to open up credit cards in a person’s name and run up charges. They can use stolen information to apply for a job or housing for which they otherwise would not be eligible due to a criminal record. They can create fake driver’s licenses, commit crimes and give false information to the authorities when arrested.
Internet fraud scams
The same scams previously conducted with telephones and letters have graduated to virtual means. Criminals now use the internet to commit the following:
- Investment fraud
- Credit card fraud
- Impersonation fraud
- Internet auction fraud
For example, “investors” may send out emails seeking investments for “guaranteed” returns. A well-known scam came from overseas in the form of an imposter claiming to be a relative in an emergency that needed a large sum of money.
If you find yourself involved in anything that might qualify as a cybercrime, you may want an attorney to explain the laws to you. For more facts about federal crimes, visit our webpage.