Pennsylvania Internet Fraud Lawyers
Internet fraud is a growing problem around the country and Pennsylvania is no exception. In 2017, there were 12,468 internet fraud complaints in Pennsylvania, making the state the 18th highest in incidents. When you become the victim of internet fraud, you need to turn to a Pennsylvania internet fraud lawyer.
Types of Internet Fraud
There are several different types of internet fraud including:
- Computer hacking to steal money from businesses, including banks
- Computer hacking to steal identification, including credit card numbers and passwords
- Phishing schemes to trick others into entering credit card numbers onto fake websites
When thieves obtain your information, including social security numbers, credit card numbers or passwords, they are able to use that information to obtain credit, open bank accounts and could even commit crimes using your name.
In 1986, Congress enacted the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act in an effort to criminalize certain computer activities. The new law amended existing computer fraud laws, expanding the law to cover more types of crime as well as the types of computers covered under its jurisdiction. Under this law, several criminal cases were prosecuted. In United States v. Morris, the creator of an early computer worm was convicted for causing damage and gaining unlawful access. In 2008, a cyberbullying case involving the suicide of a young girl was filed under the law. In 2011, in United States v. Neil Scott Kramer, a cellphone was used to convince a minor girl to have sex. In that case, it was determined that a cell phone is a computer if it performs arithmetic, logical or storage functions.
Identifying Potential Fraud
There are ways to protect yourself from becoming a victim of internet fraud. Many times, people fall victim because they are willing participants in what eventually turns out to be a fraud. If someone asks you to wire money, especially someone you don’t know or haven’t known for long, it is more than likely a scam. Unsolicited approaches for money, like an imprisoned prince who has a great business opportunity for you or someone who is reportedly “stuck” in a foreign country are also attempts at internet fraud. Another method thieves will use is asking you to handle money for someone else. If someone asks you to deposit money in your account and then forward a small portion to someone else, allowing you to keep a large sum for the “inconvenience,” it is an attempt to defraud you. Scammers have also created fake websites that look exactly like the legitimate site. Any site that accepts online payments will be secure. Always look for https:// at the beginning of a website to be sure that the site is secure. Finally, an email from your bank, Amazon, Paypal or other company where you enter a user name and password telling you to “sign in” for any reason. Legitimate companies do not send emails asking for that information. Also check the email for bad grammar or misspellings. Click on the email address as well. If it is not a legitimate site, the email address will not be from the company.
What to Do If You Are A Victim
If you believe you have become an internet fraud victim, the very first thing to do is report it to the police. One study found that only about 14 percent of fraud is reported because the victim felt embarrassed or that there was nothing that could be done. Also report the fraud to all three credit bureaus and your credit card companies. The fact is that very few cyber criminals are apprehended. Instead, police and federal agencies focus on recording patterns of abuse. A large number of criminals are not United States residents making it difficult to pursue them. Yet, internet fraud can cause significant difficulty for the victim. It can be difficult to get items removed from your credit report or to convince a bill collector that you never took out a loan. One of the best things you can do if you have been the victim of internet fraud is to contact an internet fraud attorney.