Increased charges for computer-based fraud

Over the last few decades, almost every industry has undergone major changes in the way it does business with the proliferation of computers and other technologies. Technology development does make your business more efficient, but it also opens the door to misuse of client and customer information.

When individuals or businesses use computers to obtain and use sensitive information, they may face a variety of federal crimes, including computer fraud. In some cases, using a computer to commit a crime is considered an “enhancement” and makes the underlying accusations more serious. In other cases, using a computer to commit fraud will result in another criminal prosecution. In both cases, computer fraud allegations are very serious and present a variety of challenges for both prosecution and defense.

Recently the federal government has begun Crack down Claiming Computer Fraud Under Title 18 of the United States Code, Section 1030 Computer Crime Control Law). The Computer Crime Control Act focuses on fraud committed against individuals and organizations, not just government agencies. With respect to the latter, the law prohibits individuals and organizations from using computers without permission to access the “protected computers” of others.

In most cases, these cases involve individuals seeking financial gain. However, uses that may be considered to benefit the accessing party may still constitute computer fraud. These charges can have serious criminal consequences, even without prior records, including federal prisons, confiscation, or damages, and civil liability.

Use (and misuse) of access by employees

One of the cases that federal law enforcement agencies are paying particular attention to is the involvement of employees who use access granted based on their criminal position. Employees are often in a position to own sensitive customer information such as passwords, medical information, and corporate secrets. Employees typically need to agree not to use customer information for personal gain or to commit illegal activities.

For example, in a recent case in northern Texas, 52 months after a security analyst at popular home security firm ADT pleaded guilty to several charges related to hacking a customer’s video feed. Facing a federal prison.

NS U.S. lawyer The man claimed to have added his email address to multiple customer accounts, giving him real-time access to home video surveillance. He achieved this by telling the customer that he needed to add his email to his account to perform the necessary maintenance, or by adding his email without the customer’s knowledge. ..

When he gains access to video feeds, men are said to watch videos of naked women and couples having sex for their sexual satisfaction. According to the judicial transaction, he accessed the accounts of more than 200 customers and watched the video more than 9,500 times.

The man was charged with several computer fraud charges. He faced up to five years in prison. However, instead of bringing the case to trial, the man sentenced him to plea, admitted the plea, and asked the judge to make an appropriate decision. Eventually, he received a slightly relaxed sentence of 52 months in prison.

Theft of trade secrets

Federal law enforcement agencies are also proceeding with criminal proceedings against individuals and businesses that use computers to steal important business information from clients or companies that have contracts for services.

In a recent announcement by the U.S. Federal Prosecutor’s Office, Western Oklahoma districtA man pleaded guilty to a plot to steal a corporate secret from an oil and gas company. In that case, the man was the controller of the valve division of an oil and gas company serving customers engaged in drilling and production. Apparently, the man registered for a new business that directly competes with one of the company’s customers. After that, I hired employees from a client company to join a new business.

This alone poses a legal problem, but the man “downloaded the technical drawings, material specifications, and manufacturing procedures for the victim’s valve,” and also downloaded the company’s financial information. For example, he was able to obtain not only valve design, but also manufacturing costs and customer information. Evidence also suggests that he replaced the victim’s company logo with his own company logo.

After adopting the company’s design, the man manufactured the valve and sold it in direct competition with the victim’s company. To make matters worse, he instructed his employees to delete all potentially intrusive text messages and files.

Most recently, the man entered a plea for a plot to steal a corporate secret. He faces five years in prison, a $ 250,000 fine, compensation for victims, and release under surveillance for up to three years.

It is hard to say that neither of these two defendants was aware that their actions violated the law, but this is not always the case. Indeed, in some situations, the parties may inadvertently violate computer fraud law. Regardless of the intent or degree of evidence to the individual, it is important to get the help of an experienced computer fraud lawyer in this type of case.

Computer fraud cases are extremely difficult for both prosecution and defense. To properly defend against these allegations, the defendant must have knowledge of both complex legal principles and the underlying technology.

Government burden to prove fraud case

In any fraudulent case, the prosecution must show that the defendant has deliberately made a false statement or misrepresentation, showing the intended consequences of promoting their own interests or the interests of a third party. Therefore, knowledge of “guilty” is a prerequisite for conviction of fraud.

In some cases, prosecutors may have direct evidence that an individual is trying to commit fraud, but in many cases this comes in the form of circumstantial evidence.

For example, in the above corporate secret case, evidence that the defendant’s act of instructing an employee to delete a particular email was intended to hide his past actions because he knew they were illegal. Can be considered as. Nick Overheiden, a computer fraud lawyer, explains:

Whenever the prosecution relies on circumstantial evidence, it opens the door for the defendant to challenge the interpretation of the prosecution’s evidence. Circumstantial evidence, by its very nature, requires fact-finders to make inferences before reaching a final conclusion. In most cases, the reasoning that a prosecutor asks a judge or jury is not the only rational reasoning based on facts.

That said, the federal government will already have a pretty good start by the time individuals find out that prosecution is pending. Federal prosecutors will enthusiastically investigate allegations of computer fraud before notifying the subject of the investigation. Therefore, anyone facing a computer fraud charge or afraid of investigating a computer-based crime can consider contacting an experienced computer fraud lawyer as soon as possible. increase.

Oberheiden PC © 2021 National Law Review, Volume XI, Number 217

Increased charges for computer-based fraud

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