Most people in Pennsylvania have used the Internet and know that things are not always what they appear. With easy access to the Internet and the ability to remain anonymous, many forms of online frauds have claimed unsuspecting users.
Phishing schemes, which involve the scammer trying to get people's private information by pretending to be reputable companies or organizations through email or other online communications, are very common. The phishing email usually directs the recipients to fake websites where they are asked to verify their private details, such as account numbers. In a "catfish" swindle, the perpetrator creates a fraudulent account on a social media website and pursues people who are looking for romance. Sometimes they convince people to send them money or pay for their expenses.
Another online fraud involves ads for work-at-home jobs that appear unbelievable. Many of these schemes require users to pay upfront costs or buy expensive materials without delivering a way for the users to earn money. Some work-at-home frauds are Ponzi schemes that require users to get more people to join in exchange for reduced fees.
Another common scam is ads that offer fake apartment rentals for good prices. These ads typically appear on classifieds sites, such as Craigslist, and include stolen photos and information from real listings. When users show interest, the scammers ask them to send fees or the first month of rent to a different location. Pop-up ads that claim users have won a prize, such as a free vacation, are also a form of fraud in most cases. The unexpected prize usually requires the so-called winners to pay shipping costs or other fees, but the scammers usually keep the money.
While many people fall victim to these types of Internet crime, others may be accused of participating in these scams. Because online fraud requires thorough investigation and indisputable evidence if prosecutors are seeking a conviction, defendants might look for attorneys to help them uphold their rights. An attorney might be able to provide a defense that pursues an acquittal or mitigated penalties.