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What is computer and internet fraud?

On Behalf of | Jan 2, 2024 | Criminal Law |

In an era dominated by technology, the prevalence of computer and internet fraud does not come as a surprise. As entities increasingly rely on digital platforms, the risks associated with fraudulent activities have escalated.

Computer fraud refers to deceptive and unlawful activities conducted through computer systems or networks. Hackers can exploit vulnerabilities in software, hardware or human behavior to gain unauthorized access, manipulate data or perpetrate other malicious acts.

Common tactics employed in cybercrime

Internet fraud encompasses a broader spectrum of deceptive practices conducted online. From phishing scams to identity theft, these fraudulent activities exploit the vastness of the internet to target unsuspecting victims.

Phishing remains a prevalent tactic wherein internet users masquerade as trustworthy entities to fool individuals into divulging sensitive information. These fraudulent emails or messages often contain urgent requests, creating a sense of urgency that prompts victims to act without due diligence.

Malicious software, or malware, represents another significant threat. Cybercriminals use various types of malware, such as viruses, ransomware and spyware, to compromise the security of systems and gain unauthorized access.

Identity theft involves stealing personal information to impersonate someone else. People can use this information for financial gain, accessing bank accounts, applying for credit cards or committing other fraudulent activities under the victim’s identity.

The Federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act

The CFAA, enacted in 1986, serves as the primary federal law governing unauthorized access to computer systems. At its core, the act criminalizes various computer-related activities, including but not limited to:

  • Unauthorized access to protected computers
  • Theft or destruction of information
  • Trafficking in passwords
  • Extortion involving computer systems

The CFAA applies broadly, covering both federal and non-federal computers. Individuals found guilty of violating the CFAA may face severe consequences, including fines and imprisonment. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) actively investigates and prosecutes offenses under this legislation.

If an individual has been charged with computer and internet fraud, seeking legal guidance should be non-negotiable. Given how much is at stake – and how vigorously such charges are often prosecuted – an experienced legal team can fight to secure favorable outcomes.