If you are in great need of money to pay your bills and you have the skills, your computer might be the place you turn to for finding the cash you need. But if you use the Internet to fraudulently gain access other people’s money, you can be prosecuted by the federal government for a variety of computer fraud crimes.
What You Need To Know About Federal Internet Fraud
The federal government makes it illegal to access the Internet to defraud and take something of value.
Prosecutors have to prove that someone intentionally accessed a protected computer without authorization, or went beyond their authorization.
Some of the Internet fraud schemes used most often include:
- 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 and amended many times since, 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.
CFAA makes it a federal crime to intentionally and destructively trespass in the following computer systems where 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. Internet 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.