Internet fraud covers all types of online scams. If you’re charged, you need good internet fraud defense attorneys to have the case dropped or negotiate the lightest sentence possible.
At LibertyBell Law Group, we provide an experienced internet fraud defense lawyer in California to defend you in a court of law.
Internet fraud, or online fraud, is one of the biggest sources of crime in the United States. More than 10% of cyber fraud in the US comes from California—making prosecutors especially hard on defendants. So, you definitely need a good defense attorney by your side when you are accused of one.
What is Internet Fraud?
Internet fraud involves using online methods to convince someone to give you, or another party, something of value.
There are three overarching categories of online scams:
- Fraudulent scams conducted primarily via email.
- Phishing usually occurs via email and involves getting sensitive information, including bank accounts and social security numbers.
- Unauthorized computer use to obtain data without consent.
Prosecutors must prove the following:
- A plan to commit fraud.
- The specific intent to defraud someone.
- The use of electronic communication to carry out the plan.
Note that the scheme need not be successful in being a crime, you can still be charged and get convicted of internet fraud by implementing the plan.
What Constitutes Internet Fraud in California?
There are many types of internet fraud in California. Most victims have a trusting nature, but advanced technology also fools savvy internet users.
Examples of internet fraud from the more traditional categories of fraud include:
Phishing is a common form of an email-based scam involving identity theft and financial fraud. Scammers create genuine-looking emails from trusted sources.
They look legitimate and provide a valid-sounding reason why you must confirm account details. The scammers use the details to siphon off money from your account or spend it in other ways.
Spam emails have reasonable subjects that entice people to open and read the messages.
All it takes is the click of a link to release malware or malicious software on your system and everyone on your contacts list.
Credit Card Fraud
This type of bank fraud uses online shopping as bait. Shoppers assume the retailer is trustworthy. Instead, they save your information and use it to ransack your account.
5 Types of Internet Fraud
Five primary activities constitute internet fraud in California.
1. Non-Delivery of Merchandise Fraud
In this common scam, buyers pay for online merchandise, but the retailer doesn’t send it. For example, ordering new shoes that never arrive.
2. Advance-Fee Fraud Schemes
In an advance-fee scam, buyers find fantastic deals on expensive merchandise that must be shipped.
The seller will make the shipping arrangements for a fee, but they need an advance payment to cover the initial expense. The buyer pays, and the seller disappears with the money.
3. Real Estate Overpayment Fraud
A fraudster poses as a renter who contacts a landlord about renting their apartment. The renter tells the landlord that they live abroad but will soon move to California. The landlord agrees, and the renter sends a cashier’s check for much more than the deposit amount.
They ask the landlord to deposit the check and wire the excess money to a bank account. However, the check’s false, and the landlord loses out.
4. Prize Sweepstakes or Lottery Scams
You’re notified via email that you’ve won a prize but must pay taxes before delivery. The winner pays the fees and discovers that there never was a prize.
These scams also include the infamous Nigerian letter scam and the only living relative scam. Potential victims pay a processing fee but never receive the money.
5. Work-From-Home or Employment Scams
Fake companies post ads for lucrative work-from-home opportunities. Applicants can start after they pay a registration fee. They pay the fee, but the company doesn’t exist.
These aren’t the only online forms of internet fraud, Examples include investment schemes, academic fraud, and wire fraud.
Internet Fraud and Its Penalties
The different types of internet fraud have different penalties, depending on the code and severity of the crime.
In California, internet fraud falls under several codes, the Business & Professions Code 22948 which is an anti-phishing law, the Penal Code 484e which is an online credit card fraud, the 502 for unauthorized computer access, and the 530.5 for online identity theft.
The stiffest penalty for online fraud is for activities in connection with presidentially-declared natural disasters or emergencies which affect financial institutions. You may face up to 30 years in federal prison and/or a $1 million fine. It only takes one email to convict you.
Therefore, if you are facing accusations of such a crime, you want a Los Angeles internet fraud defense lawyer to create reasonable doubt that will result in your acquittal.
Penalties for Less Severe Fraud Crimes
The Anti-Phishing Act of 2005 presides over all phishing-related online crimes. Although it doesn’t include criminal penalties, victims can file a civil suit and receive damages up to $1.5 million.
Penalties for credit card fraud depend on the amount stolen:
- Petty theft of less than $950 is a misdemeanor. Defendants face up to six months in prison and a fine of up to $1000.
- Grand theft of more than $950 is a felony. Defendants face up to three years in state prison and a fine of up to $1000.
Unauthorized computer access is a wobbler offense. Prosecutors choose whether to try the crime as a misdemeanor or felony. Defendants found guilty of a misdemeanor face up to one year in county jail and a fine of up to $10,000. When found guilty of a felony, they can face up to three years in state prison and a fine of up to $5000, and restitution is mandatory.
Identity theft is also a wobbler offense. If found guilty of a misdemeanor, defendants face up to one year in county jail and a $1000 fine. If found guilty of a felony, defendants face up to three years in state prison and a fine of up to $5000. Restitution is mandatory.
How Can Internet Fraud Defense Attorneys Protect You?
LibertyBell Law Group has some of the best criminal attorneys to take your case if you’ve been charged with online fraud. Your internet investment fraud defense lawyer in Los Angeles will find the gaps in the prosecutor’s arguments, creating sufficient reasonable doubt to have the case dismissed.
Our internet fraud defense attorneys also skillfully present your case to the judge and jurors to win them over to your side. We’ll represent you with the best team of white-collar defense attorneys. For a free consultation, visit our page and contact us at LibertyBell Law Group today!
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A consummate strategist and top criminal attorney, lawyer Tennen works tirelessly on many high profile criminal cases. She is known as a relentless fighter who never gives up on any case. Whether the case is hers or handled by another criminal defense attorney from LibertyBell Law Group, no matter how small the case may seem she asserts that every client deserves the right to the best legal representation.
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