Although the internet can be used to stay connected with one another, keep up with current events, shop, do business and a host of other things, it is also a hotbed for crime and illegal activity.
From fraud to sexual offenses, cybercrime continues to evolve and prosper as technology advances. However, state and federal law enforcement agencies have also found ways to catch criminals and making them subject to severely harsh penalties.
The following are the most common internet crimes:
- Phishing – This crime occurs when a person illegally accesses a computer without consent and proceeds to spam other individuals. Spamming can occur by sending multiple emails and then resending multiple commercial email messages in order to deceive recipients. A conviction for phishing can result in a maximum federal prison sentence of five years.
- Non-delivery of merchandise – This is a scheme typically linked to internet auction fraud, in which a seller on an online auction website accepts payment for an item but intentionally fails to ship it. If a perpetrator is caught, he/she faces a maximum federal prison sentence of 20 years.
- Child pornography – Any criminal offense involving children, including child pornography, is subject to serious consequences. Any person who goes online and transmits visual depictions of sexual conduct involving minors can be charged with child pornography. According to federal law, transmitting child pornography carries a prison sentence between five and 20 years.
- Identity theft – This crime occurs when a person uses someone else’s personally identifying information (i.e. name, SSN, credit card number, etc.) without their permission in order to commit fraud or other crimes. While misdemeanor identity theft can result in a prison sentence of one year, felony sentences can result in several years of prison time or more.
- Criminal copyright infringement – This means infringing a copyright for financial gain or distributing a work that is prepared for commercial distribution on an online network. If caught, the infringer pays the actual dollar amount of damages and profits. In more serious cases, it can result in prison time.
- Drug trafficking – The internet can also be used for delivering, distributing, or dispensing illegal narcotics. Using the internet to violate the federal drug trafficking law can result in a minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison, depending on the amount of drugs involved in the crime.