Can an online scam constitute a federal crime?

Federal charges are not something to be taken lightly. The penalties for such crimes are often severe, so it is important to act quickly in your defense if faced with such allegations. Furthermore, it is important to bear in mind that federal offenses cover a broader range of crimes than you might think. For example, what appears to be a simple online scam might amount to federal wire fraud.

The details of this are explained in greater specificity here. However, some of the online crimes that could land you in trouble include the following:

  • Work at home schemes. These claim to offer jobs that will earn you significant income from home. However, they are often dishonest and require the upfront purchase of materials or payment of fees.
  • Catfish scams. These are instances where a fake social media profile is used to construct an online romance. Often the catfish will encourage victims to send them gifts or money.
  • Fake rentals. These display details of an alleged rental unit and tend to require interested parties to send a down-payment to the person running the scam.
  • Fake prizes. These tend to claim that the victim has won a prize and then demand payment of fees in order to have the supposed prize shipped. Generally, the prize does not exist at all.
  • Phishing. This involves acquiring private information from the victims, often by posing as someone in a position of authority, such as a bank representative.

Some of these schemes may seem more innocent than others, but all can be quite damaging to their victims. If you stand accused of involvement in such crimes, you might be reported to the Federal Trade Commission and could face charges.

If you have been charged with a federal crime, it is vital to plan your next steps carefully. An attorney can advise you of your options and assist you in deciding on the course of action that is best for you.