The power and accessibility of the internet has made possible a broad range of computer-based white collar criminal activity commonly known as cyber crime. A large percentage of this activity is financial in nature, focused on deceiving people for monetary gain. In turn, the rise of cyber crime has led to stepped up enforcement measures by federal and state authorities, who often employ specialized investigators using high-tech methods.
A cyber crime may simply involve use of the internet to carry out traditional white collar crimes such as the following:
- Fraud — An example of fraud on the internet is selling fake or non-existent goods or services.
- Theft —This includes stealing not only money but also credit card numbers and other personal information.
- Money laundering — This means disguising profits derived from illegal activity as being derived from legitimate businesses. The internet has made money laundering easier through the use of peer-to-peer websites, online banking and other virtual business platforms.
The internet has also facilitated an entirely new breed of online crimes, such as the following:
- Hacking — This is the use of technology to break into the computer systems of individuals, companies or government agencies, usually to get access to data and/or documents. In some cases, hackers take control of a computer system and demand a large ransom to return the system back to the rightful owner.
- Phishing — This involves sending deceptive e-mails to a target audience in order to encourage victims to reveal sensitive information, such as bank account or credit card numbers. Phishing can also be aimed at tricking the recipient into allowing the sender to remotely install programs that spy on the user or allow the sender to take over the recipient’s computer system.
- Spoofing — This means sending e-mails or other types of electronic messages pretending to be someone else, such as a trusted source, with the intent of getting the target to reveal valuable or damaging information. For example, a notice allegedly from the target’s bank may seek to verify account information that it then stolen.
Because cyber crimes often involve interstate communication, federal and state laws may apply. Both the FBI and state authorities can bring criminal prosecutions, and they often work together in gathering evidence with the aid of specialists in internet technology.
Kevin L. Collins, P.C. in San Antonio has wide experience defending people charged with white collar crimes, including those on the internet, in and around Bexar County. If you believe you are under investigation for a cyber crime, feel free to contact us online or call 210-598-8629 for a free initial consultation.