I’ve Been Charged with Internet Fraud in Texas—What Should I Do?

Female hacker in front of computers in dark room

If you’ve been charged with internet fraud in Texas, you are likely very stressed out about your future. You may not really understand the charges and could benefit greatly from speaking to an experienced attorney from Whalen Law Office. There are many different crimes that can be perpetrated through the use of a computer. Because the internet is still a relatively new phenomenon, many of our laws have not yet caught up with crimes committed using the internet. While this can make internet crimes difficult to prosecute, the police are getting better and better at tracking and prosecuting these types of crimes.

Unfortunately, many people tend to think internet crimes aren’t all that serious, believing they can’t get caught. This is a dangerous belief; if you are caught committing an internet crime such as internet fraud, you can be arrested, prosecuted, and find yourself in jail or prison. Attorneys James Whalen and Ryne Sandel are ready to defend you from these charges, with a goal of the best outcome possible whether that goal is reached through a plea deal that reduces the charges or penalties, or through a trial.

What is Internet Fraud?

Internet fraud involves the use of software and online services with access to the internet to defraud or take advantage of victims. Cybercrime activities that occur on the internet or via email usually fall under internet fraud. These crimes include any activities that have the goal of defrauding or scamming people out of their money. In 2021, the FTC received 2.8 million fraud reports from consumers, with reported fraud losses increasing more than 70 percent from 2020.

Internet fraud offenses can be prosecuted under state laws or under federal laws. Under federal statute 18 U.S.C. Section 1343, general cyber fraud can carry a punishment of up to 30 years in prison and fines as high as one million dollars, depending on the severity of the crime. Many states have implemented credit card fraud statutes, identity theft statutes, and anti-phishing statutes. Most internet fraud schemes are perpetrated through the use of malicious software, email, spoofed websites, the spread of malware, websites that steal user data, and more elaborate phishing scams.

A major issue associated with being charged with internet fraud is that other people may use your computer, making it extremely difficult to prove—or disprove—your involvement in the fraud. It is imperative that you have a highly knowledgeable criminal defense attorney from Whalen Law Office who understands internet fraud and will know how to show you were not responsible. If you simply made a mistake, your attorney will negotiate with the prosecutor for lesser charges, less serious penalties, or, in some cases, can have your charges dropped altogether.

Are There Different Types of Internet Fraud?

There are many different types of internet fraud, including:

  • Spoofing and phishing fraud scams – Using email and online messaging services to persuade others to share their financial details, their login credentials, or their personal data. This information is then sold on the black market. The majority of phishing scams use emails.
  • Investment fraud schemes – These schemes offer very attractive returns on your investment, then once you invest, your money disappears.
  • Malware attacks – Files or programs that are harmful to a computer or a site are introduced to another’s computer through bypassing the computer’s security via malicious code injection, JavaScript injection, and other methods.
  • Credit card hacks – Collecting an individual’s credit card information, then either manipulate it so the payment doesn’t go to the seller or the individual’s credit card information is sold. This type of internet fraud may not come to light quickly until several charges have been made on the hacked credit card.
  • Identity theft – This is made easier because most of us don’t hesitate to share our personal information online. Our information can be used maliciously to purchase items—even to buy a car or home.
  • A denial of service (DoS) – Interrupting access of internet traffic to an online service with malicious intent and can crash the website of an online service.

What Are the Potential Penalties for Internet Fraud?

The penalty for internet fraud will depend heavily on what type of fraud is alleged, the amount alleged to have been taken through the internet fraud, and whether the charges are federal or state. Under Texas law, if the amount of the internet fraud is less than $100, a Class C misdemeanor will be charged which can result in a $500 fine. If the amount of the fraud is more than $100, but less than $750, a Class B misdemeanor will be charged and can result in up to 180 days in jail and a fine as large as $2,000.

If the amount of the fraud is more than $750 but less than $2,500, a Class A misdemeanor will be charged and can result in up to a year in jail and a fine as large as $4,000. The offense will be charged as a state jail felony if the amount of the fraud is more than $2,500 but less than $30,000 and can result in from 180 days to two years in jail and a fine as large as $10,000.

A third-degree felony will be charged if the amount of the fraud is more than $30,000 but less than $150,000 and can result in two to ten years in prison and a fine as large as $10,000. A second-degree felony will be charged if the amount of the fraud is more than $150,000 but less than $300,000 and can result in two to twenty years in prison and a fine as large as $10,000. If more than one computer is accessed, and the amount of the fraud is $300,000 or more, a first-degree felony can be charged which can potentially result in five to ninety-nine years or life in prison, along with a fine as large as $10,000.

If your internet fraud crime is charged federally, then as an example, the maximum prison sentence for internet fraud resulting in identity theft can range from five to twenty years in federal prison. Other internet fraud charges can result in from less than a year in federal prison all the way to life in prison, depending on the charges and the amount of the fraud.

How Can a White-Collar Criminal Defense Attorney from Whalen Law Help?

Being charged with internet fraud is a frightening experience. Whether your charges are federal or state, Whalen Law Office can help you get through the process with the best outcome possible. Criminal defense attorneys James P. Whalen and Ryne T. Sandel have years of experience digging into the evidence stacked against you that may contain a complex paper trail. Time is definitely of the essence once you’ve been charged with internet fraud or suspect you may be charged.

The sooner you hire Whalen Law Office, the sooner we will be able to begin sifting through the evidence and building a solid case on your behalf. Once you’ve spoken to our attorneys we believe you will have no doubt that the Whalen Law Office is right for you. We handle both state and federal charges and will vigorously defend your rights and your freedom every step of the way. Contact our firm today.

Author Bio

James P. Whalen

James P. Whalen is the managing attorney and founder of Whalen Law Office, a Texas criminal defense firm offering personalized legal representation for various federal criminal charges. With a commitment to providing comfort and guidance during challenging times, Mr. Whalen serves as both an attorney and counselor to his clients, helping them navigate their cases while striving to restore normalcy to their lives.

In an inherently unbalanced criminal justice system, Mr. Whalen takes on cases with unwavering dedication. With decades of legal experience, he offers representation across various criminal charges, including white-collar crimes, violent crimes, drug charges, and more. Mr. Whalen’s numerous accolades, including Super Lawyer recognition and board certification in Criminal Appellate Law and Criminal Law, reflect his unwavering commitment to ethical and high-quality legal representation.

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