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What is phishing?

Phishing is a type of scam normally run over the Internet in which people in Pennsylvania and around the country are targeted with fraudulent emails purporting to be from a government agency, bank or legitimate company. In these types of scams, thousands of potential victims are sent emails that try to prompt them to enter private information.

People who enter their details, such as their Social Security numbers, passwords or account details are then targeted with identity theft schemes. By gathering the victims' private data, the con artists are then able to get credit cards in the victims' names, empty their bank accounts and conduct other similar fraudulent activities.

Phishing is a growing problem as increasingly more people conduct business daily over the Internet. Generally, government agencies and banks do not prompt people to enter private information through an email solicitation. Many of the web pages the emails direct the user to look almost identical to the pages of the user's bank or of the federal agency, but instead, the pages are set up to glean private information for the purpose of identity theft.

When individuals are suspected of phishing, they may potentially face federal charges for the allegations against them. If convicted, these federal charges can result in serious consequences including long prison sentences in some instances. Federal sentencing is governed by guidelines from which judges do not often depart. It can thus be highly important for people in federal court to negotiate pleas to lesser offenses or to non-prison federal probationary sentences. A criminal defense attorney who practices in both state and federal court may be able to help clients secure pleas to lesser offenses or to identify potential defenses in order to devise an effective defense strategy.

Source: Webopedia, "Phishing", November 10, 2014

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