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Internet Fraud Watch

November 14, 1998


The Internet, along with online services, provides many types of people with many different varieties of information. It provides consumers with a world of information, and sellers with a new way to promote their products and/or services. Many different types of business are done though the computer, including "cybershopping," and "banking online." Everyone recognizes the potential of cyberspace, including crooks. Over the years, scams and fraud have been conducted by mail or phone. These same scams can now be found on the Internet. That is why it is very important to think twice before investing money in any opportunity that is learned about through the Internet.

A person that violates the "federal statue" is defined as a person "'knowingly and with intent to defraud, accesses a protected computer without authorization, or exceeds authorized access, and by means of such conduct furthers the intended fraud and obtains anything of value, unless the object of the fraud and the thing obtained consists only of the use of the computer and the value of such use is not more than $5,000 in a one-year period," (CRB Internet FAQ's: Internet Fraud).

Internet fraud covers criminal behavior that could be prosecuted under the Federal wire or mail fraud statutes or the Federal computer fraud statute. Some Internet fraud might also be prosecuted under state fraud statutes. An example of Internet fraud was given by the Department of Justice's Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section:

"A German hacker gained unauthorized entry via the Internet into the computer of a Florida credit card bureau. The hacker sent the credit card company an e-mail stating that either the company would pay him $30,000 in ransom or he would destroy all of the company's files or post all of the credit card numbers stored in the company's files on the Internet. Fortunately, the German was a better hacker than criminal mastermind. The Florida company called the FBI immediately, and the hacker was arrested by German police and FBI agents when he collected the $30,000 sent to his post office box in Germany."

It has been found that "college degrees [are] only an e-mail away," (Internet Makes Resume..). Prices for fake degrees ranged anywhere from $19.95 to $9,000. These fake degrees included software that could print impressive degrees using a home computer. Michael G. Kessler, president and CEO of Kessler & Associates, Ltd., said that they "even located sources selling transcript templates and paper which would allow the purchaser to fill in the blanks to create their own official college transcripts, complete with straight A's if they desired," (Internet Makes Resume...). There are many other fraud things like this that have become popular with the Internet, especially in the workplace.

Fraud occurs in many different ways throughout the Internet. It is important to know that it does exist in the Internet and to be fully conscious about it.

If you suspect any fraud occurring, contact the National Fraud Information Center

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