What is Internet Crime & What Should I Do if I’m Accused of an Internet Crime? 

Internet crime, also referred to as cybercrime, caused $6 trillion in damages in 2022. There are various types of internet crime, and nearly half of all Americans have had their personal data breached by cyber criminals. Keep reading to learn more about internet crime, and what you should do if you’re accused of it. 

What is Internet Crime? 

Internet crime, or cybercrime, includes any criminal activity carried out by means of a computer or the internet. There are three major categories that a cybercrime fits into: individual, property, and government. The state of New Jersey ranked 6th in the amount of money lost as a result of internet crime in 2022 with a total of $284.6 million lost. 

Categories Of Internet Crime

Individual: This type of cybercrime involves one individual distributing illegal or malicious information online. This includes cyberstalking, distributing pornography and trafficking. 

Property: This involves a hacker stealing a person’s bank information to gain access to funds, make online purchases, or run phishing scams to get people to give up their personal information. Using software to gain access to confidential information also fits into this category. 

Government: This is the least common form of internet crime, however it is the most serious. A cybercrime against the government is also known as cyber terrorism. This type of cybercrime against the government includes hacking government websites, military websites, or distributing propaganda. 

Types of Internet Crime 

Internet crime is always evolving as new ways to commit crimes with the aid of a computer are invented. According to The Internet Crime Complaint Center, IC3, which was established by the FBI in May 2000 to receive complaints of internet related crime, there were over 800 thousand reports of internet crime in the United States last year. 

The five most common types of internet crime include: 

Phishing Scams: By far the most reported type of internet crime, this main form of social engineering attack tries to get unsuspecting victims to give up personal information. Usually this type of internet crime involves impersonating a popular or trusted brand or organization, then asking for personal information in order to receive a discount or fix a fake problem with an existing account. That personal information is then monetized, and in the worst-case scenario, bank information was stolen. 

Internet Fraud: This internet crime involves asking people to send money promising a much larger return in the short term. A popular version of this crime includes someone calling from a foreign country saying they need help moving a large sum of money, then asking the victim to cover a small fee with the promise of a lot of money to come. If the victim sends a small fee, they are then told that more money is needed, and if they send that, the criminals have accomplished their goal and move to the next victim. 

Online Intellectual Property Infringements: Intellectual property infringements include the sale of replica or counterfeit goods, content piracy, patent infringement, and more. 

Identity Theft: This internet crime is closely related to phishing scams mentioned above. This crime occurs when a criminal gains access to a victim’s personal online information to steal funds, access confidential information, or participate in tax or health fraud. 

Online Harassment & Cyber Stalking:  These types of crimes mostly stem from the use of social media and are carried out there as well. The criminal in these types of crimes wants to intimidate and instill fear in their victim in hopes of gaining control over them and extorting them. 

A popular form of this today is when a criminal impersonates someone online and requests compromising pictures from a teenager, once the teenager sends them, the person blackmails them into sending money with the threat of the pictures being sent to family or friends if they do not. 

What Are the Consequences of Internet Crime? 

The FBI is the lead federal agency for investigating internet crimes, and virtually any crime committed using a computer can be charged as a federal crime. Therefore, the penalties for internet crime are serious. Depending on the internet crime committed, the penalty can be up to $1000 fine for a misdemeanor or exceed $100K in fines with lengthy prison sentences as well. 

What Should I Do If I’m Accused of an Internet Crime? 

Your first step after being accused of an internet crime is to find an experienced lawyer who can help you navigate the legal process. The presumption is that you are innocent until proven guilty. Making sure your rights are protected is the most important part of the initial development of the case, and an experienced defense attorney can make sure you are shielded during the process. 

You should let investigators know that you want to cooperate with them, but that you’d like to speak to your lawyer first. The Law Offices of Robert J. DeGroot is experienced in defending against allegations of internet crime and will develop a strong defense against the charges. 

If you or someone you know has been accused of an internet crime, the Law Offices of Robert J. DeGroot is experienced and ready to help. Reach out to us today!