If you need money to pay your bills and you have the right skills, you may turn to your computer to earn extra cash. But if you use the Internet to fraudulently gain access to other people’s money, you can be indicted for computer fraud.
What You Need To Know About Federal Computer Fraud
The federal government makes it illegal to use a computer or the Internet to create misrepresentations that would cause another person to lose their money or property.
Some of the computer fraud schemes used most often include:
- Changing computer entries in unauthorized ways to move funds into an account(s) that benefits the person doing the input
- Changing or deleting information in a database for your own benefit
- Rewriting a bank’s computer code to gain access to account holders’ identification
- Computer hacking to steal money from banks or other businesses
- Computer hacking to steal identification information such as passwords or credit card numbers
- Phishing schemes that trick unsuspecting people into entering their credit card numbers on fake websites
Computer Fraud and Abuse Act
Federal laws governing computer fraud can be found in many areas of the US Code.
The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), passed by Congress in 1986, is the basic law used by federal prosecutors to prosecute computer crimes including computer fraud. This law was enacted to curtail computer crime, and legislators have tried to keep up with evolving criminal activities by amending it several times.
CFAA makes it a federal crime to intentionally and destructively trespass in the following computer systems when you are not an authorized user:
- Federal computers
- Bank computers
- Computers used for interstate and/or foreign commerce
The key to the severity of your punishment for CFAA violations centers on whether you illegally entered the system with the intent to cause harm or destruction or commit fraud. Computer fraud charges can draw up to five years in prison for a first offense.
How A Lawyer Will Help
When you are up against a fraud charge, you will be facing inflexible laws and a determined US prosecutor. You will need an attorney who can help you determine all of your options and achieve the best outcome for your circumstances.
United States Code
Questions? Contact us today.
If you are charged with a federal crime, the consequences can be devastating. Fienman Defense will fight tenaciously to protect your constitutional rights. We will guide you through a court system that can be complex and intimidating, and provide you with the strongest possible defense.