Cybercrime includes any criminal offense that uses a computer or a computer network. The amount of cybercrime in Texas has increased as computers and the internet have become an essential part of everyone’s daily lives. It is a broad category of crime that includes many different state and federal offenses. Below are nine of the most common cybercrimes committed in Texas.
- Identity Theft
Identity theft occurs when an individual uses another person’s name, domain address, phone number, or other identifying information to steal an individual’s personal information such as security numbers, bank account information, or credit card information. Often, cybercriminals will take this information and sell it on the dark web. Individuals who commit identity theft can be charged under Texas Penal Code §33.07, which makes it illegal to impersonate another without their consent with the purpose to cause harm, defraud, intimidate, or threaten.
To protect yourself from identify theft, you should monitor your accounts closely. If you notice any suspicious activity, you should report it to the proper authorities.
Cyberbullying refers to using the internet or an electronic device to harass, intimidate, or harm another. Basically, it is online bullying. David’s Law, passed in 2017, making cyberbullying a criminal offense. Cyberbullying is taken very seriously in Texas because of the harmful effect it can have on children.
- Cyber Extortion
An individual commits cyber extortion when he or she threatens to delete, shut down, or damage another’s computer or system in order to exhort money, information, or anything else of value. It is also referred to as electronic data tampering. Cybercriminals use computer viruses, malware, or distributed denial of services to commit cyber extortion. It is prosecuted under both Texas Penal Code § 33.023 and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
Phishing is a fraudulent attempt to obtain personal information by disguising oneself as a legitimate institution. The intent is to entice individuals to enter sensitive information, such as personal identifying information, banking information, or credit card numbers. Criminals often use emails or text messages to target their victims.
If you receive a suspicious email or text message, it is best practice to contact the business directly to confirm that they are requesting the information. Typically, a legitimate business will not ask you to send sensitive information over email.
Legally referred to as “breach of computer security” or “unauthorized system access,” hacking is when an individual knowingly accesses a computer, computer network, or computer system without the owner’s consent. Cybercriminals will target computers, smartphones, internet protocol cameras, and network-attached storage devices. Hacking is punished as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the value of the property lost.
- Creating or Possessing Child Pornography
It is a felony to use computers or the internet to create, possess, or distribute pornographic images of a minor child under Texas Penal Code 43.26. Child pornography refers to any sexually explicit material (photographs or videos) of a child under the age of 18. It can also be prosecuted at the federal level.
- Online Solicitation of a Minor
It is illegal to use the internet, text messages, or email to send sexual messages to a minor for the purpose of soliciting the minor to engage in sexual contact, sexual intercourse or deviate sexual intercourse. In Texas, you can be convicted of online solicitation of a minor, even if you never intended to meet in person.
- Internet Fraud
An individual commits internet fraud when he or she creates a fake profile or sends fraudulent messages with the purpose of causing harm, committing fraud, or intimating or threatening another. One example of internet fraud is investment fraud, where a person communicates with another individual online about a fraudulent business or investment opportunity to persuade the victim to wire them money.
- Trafficking Passwords
Under Section 1030(a)(6) of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, it is illegal to traffic passwords for a government computer or if the trafficking affects interstate or foreign commerce. Trafficking refers to the act of selling or transferring with the intent to dispose of.
Speak to an Experienced Frisco Criminal Defense Attorney
If you or someone you know is facing cybercrime charges, you should immediately reach out to a local Frisco criminal defense attorney. Philip D. Ray is an experienced criminal attorney and former prosecutor who will provide you with a skilled and aggressive defense. He has years of experience defending individuals against cybercrime charges in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Call The Law Offices of Philip D. Ray today at (214) 845-7987 for a consultation.