The number of internet crimes, or “cybercrimes,” has grown exponentially in recent decades with the rapid advancement of technology and people’s increased access to the internet.
A little-known fact about internet crimes is that, since the internet crosses state lines, they can be charged at a state or federal level. This means that the penalties for such crimes can vary greatly.
What is an Internet Crime?
Under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1984, many different crimes count as internet crimes. Most of the time, internet crimes are crimes that already exist, yet are made easier through the use of the internet, such as child pornography and credit card fraud.
Additionally, there are several crimes related specifically to computers, including hacking, computer theft, and more. We discuss five types of internet crimes in detail.
#1. Identity Theft
One of the most well-known internet crimes is identity theft. This crime involves the deliberate use of someone else's identity, usually as a method to gain a financial advantage. Most often, identity theft occurs when someone steals another person’s Social Security number and uses that information to open new accounts and make purchases.
#2. Credit Card Fraud
Credit card fraud is the unauthorized use of a credit or debit card to fraudulently obtain money or property. Such financial information can be stolen in the following ways:
- An identity thief lures a victim to a fraudulent website and tricks them into providing their credit card number.
- An identity thief installs a credit card skimmer in an ATM to steal account information from swiped cards.
- An identity thief uses financial information that was accidentally released in a data breach that hits a retailer or financial institution.
- An identity thief buys stolen credit card numbers on the dark web (part of the web that can only be accessed through special software).
#3. Child Pornography
Child pornography involves viewing or keeping sexually explicit images of minors on a computer. Such media can include photos, videos, recordings, and more.
Hacking involves seeking to compromise digital devices, such as computers, smartphones, and even entire networks. Contrary to popular belief, hacking does not always have to involve monetary gain. Activities that involve compromising a secure digital network for the purposes of protest, spying, and fun can all be considered hacking.
#5. Distributing or Creating Computer Viruses
A computer virus is a program that, once created, replicates itself by modifying other computer programs and inserting its own code. There are several reasons that a hacker may create a computer virus, including:
- Damage other computers or networks.
- Gain money or information from the target.
- Hide illegal activities.
Charged with an Internet Crime? Here’s What to Do
Internet crimes are serious offenses. Because internet crimes now cost the federal government millions of dollars, they may be prosecuted in federal courts. Such federal crimes can carry much stronger penalties than state crimes, including a decade or more in prison.
If you have been charged with an internet crime, it’s important to contact an experienced defense attorney as soon as possible. You need a team that understands the complexities of internet crimes and can use this knowledge to protect your future.
At Caplan & Tamburino Law Firm, P.A., we have been serving the Twin Cities, and the greater Minnesota area, for decades. Two of our attorneys, Joe Tamburino and Jill Brisbois, are both Board Certified Criminal Law Specialists through the Minnesota State Bar Board of Legal Specialization. This is a certification only 3% of attorneys hold.
Contact Caplan & Tamburino Law Firm, P.A. at (612) 444-5020 to schedule a free case review.