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A Guide to Internet Crimes

The Internet has opened a world of opportunity for everyone. In fact, the Internet served as an office place for many of us over the last year and a half. It’s easy to access, easy to use, and holds numerous educational and entertainment benefits. However, it also has created an entire new crime category: internet crime. Let’s discuss some of the most common online crimes, and what is at risk if you are arrested for one of these offenses.

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Fraud

The Internet is a common tool in a lot of fraud crimes. The FBI continuously investigates cases of internet fraud, including:

  • Data breaches: secured data being leaked to hackers, usually exposing sensitive or confidential information without authorization.
  • Account compromises: e-mail, social media, and other important accounts may be broken into, exposing personal and/or financial information.
  • Phishing: impersonating a legitimate business in order to get money or personal information from unsuspecting users.
  • Ransomware: malware that can take over an individual or organization’s network, locking them out of their data. The perpetrator typically requests payment in exchange for the victim getting their access back.

Other types of fraud crimes may occur online while not specifically targeting online information.
This includes:

  • Gambling crimes
  • Embezzlement
  • Tax fraud
  • Identity theft
  • Bank fraud

Media Crimes

You can access just about any type of media through the Internet: songs, TV shows, books, movies, podcasts, and more. Many services require you to either pay a one-time fee or a monthly subscription price to access the media of your choice. However, many people have found ways to skirt these requirements and gain access for free. This is a crime called piracy. The person or organization that makes the media accessible for free may also be held responsible forillegal media distribution.

Additionally, some people commit copyright infringement online. In fact, you may have even done this unknowingly. Copyright infringement is when individuals use other people’s work as their own. For example, taking a graphic design that someone else made and, without permission, selling it on your own website. Individuals using other people’s work online should always be sure they are taking the necessary steps to gain rights to use the copyrighted material from the copyright holder.

Pornography

Most pornography online is perfectly legal to view. However, it’s important to know what types of content can get you in legal trouble.
This includes:

  • Viewing or downloading child pornography
  • Distributing child pornography
  • Publishing ‘revenge’ pornography

A pornography-related conviction will not only result in criminal penalties, but will also likely require you to register as a sex offender for many years.

Florida Computer Crimes Act

Florida’s Computer Crimes Act seeks to punish individuals who commit online crimes either against users or intellectual property.
This act states that the following are criminal offenses:

  • Willfully introducing a computer contaminant to attack a computer system or network.
  • Destroying data or programs on a computer
  • Stealing data that is considered to be a trade secret
  • Accessing an unauthorized computer or computer network
  • Engages in unauthorized surveillance of someone through their computer network

This is a shortlist of actions condemned by the Florida Computer Crimes Act. For more information, view the legislature here.

Penalties

In Florida, nearly all cybercrimes are considered felony offenses. It may be considered a first, second, or third-degree felony, depending on the circumstances of the crime.

If convicted of an Internet crime, you face:

  • Jail time
  • Expensive fines
  • Probation
  • Potential sex offender registration

Miami Internet Crimes Attorneys

Even though online crimes don’t cause physical harm, they are still aggressively prosecuted in Florida. If you are facing online crime charges, contact our team at Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. as soon as possible. We have over 47 years of legal experience and are here to help you fight your charges.