Identity theft and Internet fraud are two crimes that are running rampant, and both state and federal investigators have stepped up their efforts to find and prosecute the people involved with internet crime rings.
Because both are unique and ever-evolving crimes, they present unique and ever-evolving problems for investigators – especially if you consider the limits of technology past, present and future. In other words, what used to work to regulate the Internet and reduce fraud two years ago often doesn’t work now, and what works now to do that job will likely not work two years from now.
The path to proving an Internet crime often involves wiretapping and internet surveillance by getting your Internet Service Provider to provide investigators with access to your IP address, which allows them to track movements across the entire Internet.
When charging someone with an Internet crime, prosecutors must prove two things including:
- That the person in question intended to commit an Internet crime and
- The person allegedly involved sat at the computer at the same time the crime happened
Just because the computer’s owner was at home at the time of the crime, does not mean that he or she sat at the computer at the time, and just because the computer’s owner sat at the computer does not mean that he or she committed a crime. The availability of Wi-Fi access makes these statements even truer since hackers can hijack that access for their own use. Internet crimes are difficult to prove because of these variables.
My office investigates every one of these variables of alleged computer and Internet crimes in addition to the case information obtained by law enforcement and the prosecutor, and their respective actions in regards to obtaining that information.
Proving Computer and Internet Crimes
If you are under investigation or have been arrested for an alleged Internet crime in Ventura, you must contact an attorney to review your case quickly, and in confidence to ensure that your rights are not trampled. I handle a variety of Internet crimes cases aggressively and from all angles including:
- Hacking, phishing, or spoofing
- Credit card theft or identity theft
- Crimeware, malware, or Trojans
- Email related Internet crimes
- Child pornography and other Internet sex crimes
Proving that a specific person committed a computer or Internet crime – beyond all reasonable doubt – is difficult at best and at worst, practically impossible.
This is because Internet crime ringleaders know how to cover their tracks using “Zombie” computers, spoofed email addresses, and remote attacks. These are defined as:
A zombie computer: A computer that a Trojan horse or other malware type attacked, created a backdoor into its network, which allows another computer (a command and control server) to control that zombie computer remotely. Usually, zombies are part of a botnet, but can sometimes be turned into a command and control server. According to FBI Cybercrimes division, they are aware of at least 120,000 zombie computers that are either part of a botnet or control a botnet.
IP and Email address Spoofing: A person who spoofs email or IP addresses typically masks his or her own IP or email address, or both, and uses that of an innocent person to send phishing, spam, ore malware laden email. This can be done via remote hacking, or by introducing malware to an unsuspecting person’s computer. In either case, the
About 99 percent of the time, the computer, email address or IP address owner has no knowledge that their computers and networks have been compromised or used to commit Internet crimes.
Potential Internet Crime Penalties
Of the unique challenges presented by Internet crimes, the most prevalent is the unfortunate reality that Internet crimes often lack any real physical evidence because they are committed online.
Judges and prosecutors are aware that the about 80 percent of Internet and computer crimes happen in the U.S., and about 10 percent of those originate in California, and that they are difficult to prove. This often leaves investigators accumulating circumstantial evidence, often gathered while making assumptions about the alleged criminal, and by connecting the dots that don’t necessarily connect.
Though the charges may be difficult to prove, once convicted, the sentence can be harsh.
Even hacking a friend’s computer as a joke could result in misdemeanor, which can result in jail time and fines if convicted. This same crime charged as a felony could result in three years in jail and fines up to $10,000. Probation may also be imposed, as well as paying restitution and the loss of a security clearance if you had one.
Internet Crimes Attorney – Obtaining Counsel and Developing Your Defense
It is crucial that you obtain counsel as soon as possible after you find out you are being investigated or have been charged with an Internet crime.
I will go over every aspect of the prosecutor’s investigation. I will challenge the constitutionality of anything not based on hard evidence that may have led to the charges against you including assumptions and circumstantial evidence that may have led to:
- Information collected via wiretaps, key logging, and other tacking methods
- Search and seizure warrants
- Confiscation of computers and hard drives
I will determine whether the prosecution may have trampled your rights as a U.S. and California citizen, I will do everything in my power to get the case dismissed or the bail reduced.
Though no outcome is ever guaranteed, in cases in which hard evidence mounts, I always put my clients’ best interests first and negotiate the best way to get charges reduced, while potentially finding alternative sentencing options.
No matter the charges or the evidence, you do not have to fight this alone – hire me to help me help you and together we’ll fight vigorously to make a difference in the outcome of your case.
Contact The Law Office of Robert M. Helfend today!