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Fraud in Connection With Electronic Mail


Electronic mail fraud is a serious white collar crime that is aggressively prosecuted in federal court, so it is especially critical for those who have been accused of this crime, to speak with an experienced white collar crime attorney who is well-versed in both state and federal law and can aggressively represent their interests in court.

Prohibited Activity 

Those who are involved in certain fraudulent activities that affect interstate or foreign commerce can be prosecuted in federal court. This can have serious consequences, as federal crimes tend to be more harshly penalized than state offenses. According to federal law, a person can be tried for fraud in connection with electronic mail if he or she:

  • Knowingly accesses a protected computer without first obtaining authorization and intentionally initiates the transmission of commercial electronic messages from or through the device;
  • Uses a protected computer to relay multiple commercial electronic mail messages in an effort to deceive recipients as to the messages’ origin;
  • Materially falsifies header information in electronic mail messages and then initiates their transmission;
  • Registers, using a false identity, for five or more email or online user accounts or two or more domain names and initiates the transmission of emails from a combination of those accounts; or
  • Falsely represents him or herself to be the registrant of five or more internet addresses and sends multiple emails from those addresses or conspires to do so.

Potential Penalties  

The penalties for a conviction under this statute are severe. For example, a defendant faces up to five years in prison or a fine. In certain cases, defendants can be saddled with both a fine and imprisonment if:

  • The offense was committed in order to further a federal or state felony offense; or
  • The defendant had been convicted of a similar state or federal offense involving unauthorized access to a computer or sending multiple commercial emails on a prior occasion.

A defendant will face a three year sentence if he or she:

  • Had unauthorized access to a computer and used it to send multiple emails;
  • Created at least five false email addresses or ten or more falsified domain registrations and used them to send 20 or more falsified emails;
  • Transmitted more than 2,500 emails in a 24 hour period, 25,000 during a one month period, or 250,000 over one year;
  • Caused one or more people to lose at least $5,000 over a period of a single year;
  • Caused a single individual to obtain more than $5,000 over a single year; or
  • Worked in concert with three or more people, of whom he or she was the organizer or leader.

Defendants who are convicted will also be ordered to forfeit the following items:

  • Any property, whether real or personal, that constitutes gross proceeds obtained from the offense; and
  • Any equipment, software, or other technology used to commit or to facilitate the offense.

Even equipment that was only intended to be used can be confiscated by the government. However, in order to convict someone of this offense, the prosecution must be able to demonstrate that he or she sent multiple emails, which means:

  • More than 100 messages in 24 hours;
  • More than 1,000 emails during a 30 day span; or
  • More than 10,000 emails during a single year.

Call Today to Schedule a Free Consultation With a White Collar Crime Lawyer  

To speak with an experienced Miami white collar crime attorney about your own charges, please contact Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A., Criminal Defense Attorneys at 305-670-9919 or send us a brief online message. We are eager to help you throughout each step of your case.


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Miami Criminal Attorneys

9130 South Dadeland Blvd
Miami, Florida 33156

Telephone: 305-670-9919
Fax: 305-670-9299

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