Gillette Internet Fraud Attorney
The FBI Denver Division recently warned residents of Colorado and Wyoming about online scams. Non-payment and non-delivery scams cost consumers more than $265 million in 2020. Credit card fraud cost another $129 million in losses, as stated in the report of the agency’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (ICCC). People over the age of 60 in the Intermountain West lost nearly $1 trillion altogether from online scams in 2020, as reported by the Deseret News.
The FBI is on the lookout for several types of internet fraud, including the following:
- Non-delivery: In non-delivery scams, a buyer pays online for goods or services that are never received.
- Non-payment: This type of internet scam involves goods that are shipped for which the seller is never paid.
- Phishing: Scammers create phishing emails that appear to come from big brand companies known to the consumer. The idea is to entice the email recipient to click on a link or open an attachment, by which the scammer can either collect personal information or install malicious software on the victim’s computer.
Wyoming has enacted laws to protect consumers and internet users from online fraud or theft. To qualify as a computer crime under state law, the act must be intentional, and the offense must be knowingly committed. Misdemeanor computer crimes are offenses committed against computer equipment and supplies. Computer crimes charged as felony offenses include:
- Crimes against intellectual property (data and programs)
- Crimes against computer users at a value of above $750
- Crimes against computer equipment and supplies when done with intent to scheme, defraud, or obtain property
Internet fraud is being prosecuted fiercely in Wyoming, with determination to win convictions. Computer crimes in Wyoming may carry serious penalties, including heavy fines and jail time. For example, penalties for unlawful skimming of credit, debit or other electronic payment cards are punishable by:
- First conviction – up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both
- Second or subsequent conviction – up to 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $25,000, or both
To obtain a conviction, the prosecution must prove each element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Depending on the circumstances of the case, the possible defenses may include the following:
- Good faith defense: The defendant was trying to comply with the law but inadvertently committed an act of internet fraud. Also known as “lack of intent,” this defense is often used in cases involving submission of inaccurate information, as often occurs in the healthcare industry.
- Defendant is innocent: Someone else may have used the defendant’s name and login information to commit internet fraud.
- Illegal search and seizure: Citizens are protected from unreasonable search and seizure by the government under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Computing and telecommunication devices are private property. Law enforcement must obtain a proper search warrant from a judge before search and seizure of private property.
- Statute of limitations: It can take a while to establish a paper trail in internet fraud cases. A defendant cannot be prosecuted for an alleged crime if the statute of limitations (time limit imposed by law) has expired.
At Steven Titus & Associates, P.C., we work hard to defend individuals falsely or unfairly charged with internet fraud crimes. Our Campbell County criminal defense attorneys are involved with our clients, always available, and down-to-earth. Call us today at (307) 257-7800 to schedule a free case strategy session if you have been charged with a fraud offense.
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