There are all kinds of ways to make money on the internet, but some of them could get a person into trouble. The FBI identifies certain online activities as fraud, and the penalties can be stiff.

A person does not have to know how to write code to commit internet fraud. Here are a few common online activities that the law prohibits:

  • Phishing: Many people do not understand how easy it is for someone to obtain and use their personal information. An email from a fake business requesting passwords, Social Security numbers, bank account or credit card numbers and other sensitive data could lead some to comply without questioning the validity of the source.
  • Email account compromise: EAC works by requesting payments to locations that are not what they seem to be through the use of compromised emails.
  • Data breach: People may think of data breaches in terms of large companies accidentally allowing criminals to hack personal information. However, a breach occurs if anyone who does not have authorization views online data that should be private, such as intellectual property or trade secrets.

Because federal law considers the internet a channel of interstate commerce, people charged with some form of internet fraud may find themselves prosecuted in federal court. Penalties can include years in federal prison. Depending on the alleged offense, a person may also face a civil lawsuit filed by a victim.

The seriousness of a conviction makes it essential for a person charged with internet fraud to hire a criminal defense lawyer who has experience and resources to develop a strong defense strategy. Through diligent investigation of digital records, knowledge of the inconsistencies and intricacies of the law and an understanding of how the prosecution builds these cases, an attorney may be able to secure a lower sentence, or even a not guilty verdict.