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Computers have changed the world for the better in many ways. Still, there are always going to be people who try to take advantage of others and defraud them. Computers serve as another avenue for fraudsters to commit these crimes.
This trend has not gone unnoticed, which is why the Colorado Attorney General is working to stop digital fraudsters in their tracks.
On top of the AG’s office efforts to apprehend the people committing fraud, they’re also focused on educating the public to be vigilant of the different kinds of computer fraud crimes.
Here’s what you need to know about computer and digital crime in Colorado, as well as common crimes perpetrated using computers and the internet.
Computer crime is committed in Colorado when someone knowingly uses the internet and its related devices and computers to commit acts of fraud against others, whether individuals or organizations.
The Colorado Attorney General has been highlighting crimes or situations involving digital fraud, which include:
The perpetrator will send a text or email to get the user to download malware, a type of viral software, onto their phone or computer. They may make the website that installs the malware look like a trusted site, i.e. the user’s financial institution.
Once installed, malware compromises the account by taking the victim’s personal information.
Many people use social media and clickbait scams to trick consumers into installing malware. Clickbait might also deceive the user into giving up personal information in other ways.
People often connect on the internet to buy and sell items. This popular practice has become another avenue to try and defraud people.
These schemes can range from property rental scams to fake tickets to overpayment scams that ultimately trick victims into paying money to fake businesses.
Many folks wile away an afternoon browsing the internet with no particular goal. Sometimes fraudsters use websites to acquire personal information through phishing scams, viruses, or plain old deceptive tactics.
Companies occasionally experience data breaches in which thieves take sensitive information. A company should notify its customers if they’ve had a data breach.
Internet fraudsters might exploit a user into sharing personal information—then use that information to commit identity theft.
This scam’s premise entices victims to invest in an enterprise.
Often, scammers invite them to add money to prepaid debit cards at local stores. They convince victims to share that debit card number with “investors”, who promise to “flip” that money into a higher eventual payment.
In reality, the scammer steals the money on the card.
Free trials for products are common. Negative-option scammers consumers sign up for the free trial. Unknowingly, they actually agree to recurring charges and shipments unless they cancel – and the fraudster makes canceling very difficult.
Online consumers can be exploited in even simple online shopping. Without the proper protection on their computer, internet lurkers can steal payment and identity information.
Be vigilant of spam. Don’t click or download attachments from sites you don’t trust.
Consumers should take steps to secure their smartphones and operating systems to keep things safe. Often, your wireless company or phone brand will offer a built-in security system.
This scam involves fake pop-up warnings on a computer telling the consumer “a virus has been detected”. In reality, there is no virus, and the fraudsters simply want to sell an unnecessary service.
As you can see from all these examples, digital fraud takes many forms. It can encompass identity theft or even just theft.
The penalties depend on the value of the theft. They range from six months in jail and fines of $750 – for theft of less than $300 – all the way to a Class 2 felony for theft of $1 million or more, punishable by up to 24 years in prison and fines as high as $1 million.
About the Author:
Denver-based criminal defense and DUI attorney Jacob E. Martinez is a knowledgeable and experienced litigator with a record of success providing innovative solutions to clients facing criminal charges of any severity. Mr. Martinez has been recognized by countless legal organizations for his exemplary defense work, including Avvo, Best DWI Attorneys, Expertise, Lawyers of Distinction, The National Trial Lawyers, and others. He was also named one of the 10 Best in Client Satisfaction in Colorado by the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys for 2020, and is Lead Counsel rated