732-212-2812 | Timothy R. Anderson Law, LLC

New Jersey Computer Crimes Attorney man with pcOne common charge I have fought in past is of phishing. This act is directly tied to identity theft and is considered a type of white collar crime. According to the FBI, phishing costs American taxpayers more than $1 billion annually, which is why prosecuting it has become a top priority. If you’ve been accused of phishing,  my experience as a New Jersey computer crimes attorney can help.

What Is Phishing?

Phishing is a type of fraud that occurs whenever a person sends some form of electronic communication, usually an email, to try to gain access to sensitive personal or financial information. Phishing emails often look as though they are coming from an official, reputable site, such as from a bank, credit card company or retail store, when in reality they are just a fake email.

Common Phishing Scenarios

All phishing attacks have one thing in common, and that is they all ask for some type of sensitive information from the person receiving the email. This can be anything from Social Security numbers to account passwords. Phishing emails often claim to be from official representatives, and may contain what seem to be actual company logos. These emails might even threaten coercive action such as the closing of an account if the receiver does not respond within a certain amount of time.

What are the Criminal Elements of Phishing?

To be charged with phishing, you must “knowingly and intentionally” attempt to gain another party’s sensitive information in a fraudulent manner. This happens whenever someone pretends to be someone else in order to gain information that they otherwise would not have access to. This means that if a person sends a mass email pretending to be a bank representative, and asks recipients to provide them with account information, that could be considered phishing.

Acquiring Information Not Required

It’s important to note that you can be charged with phishing, even if you do not successfully obtain any sensitive information. The mere act of sending out fraudulent communications, to include creating a copycat website, is enough to establish probable cause for phishing. Therefore, it is not necessary for another person to respond to your email in order to be charged. Simply intending to garner private data is enough to warrant charges and the need for a New Jersey computer crimes attorney.

Acts That Are Not Phishing

Merely asking others for sensitive information does not necessarily constitute phishing. For example, if you are a retailer who offers lines of credit to your customers, you would not be guilty of phishing if you asked for financial information on a credit application. In this instance, you are not pretending to be someone you are not, and there is also a legitimate need for the information. As such, there wouldn’t be cause to charge you with a crime.

Fraudulent Websites

While most phishing scams are perpetrated via email, they can also take place via the Internet. This happens whenever a website is created that closely mimics that of another reputable organization, and is designed to “trick” people into providing sensitive information such as an account number or password. If a person creates, operates, or gathers information from such a website, they could be charged with phishing. As with emails, there is no requirement to actually obtain information. Rather, the act of putting up such a website may be enough to lead to criminal charges and require that you hire an experienced computer crimes attorney.

Federal Phishing Charges

A person can be charged in federal court with phishing, but there is no specific federal statute concerning phishing.  Rather, a federal allegation of phishing likely would be charged as  identity theft, or else as wire fraud, which occurs whenever fraudulent communications are sent through electronic means, such as by email.

New Jersey State Laws

Like many other states, New Jersey does not have any specific laws pertaining to phishing. Instead, phishing is generally classified under the broader category of identity theft.

Accused of Phishing? Contact a New Jersey Computer Crimes Attorney

If you’ve been accused of phishing, contact a New Jersey computer crimes attorney from The Law Offices of Timothy R. Anderson at 732-212-2812.