Articles Posted in Federal Computer Crimes

Having the FBI knocking on your door at 6 in the morning can be the most frightening experience in your life.  They enter, start searching through your most personal belongings, take your papers, records, phone and computers and leave.  This is what happened to one of Saland Law’s recent clients (we’ll call him “Dave” – not his real name).  He reached out to us a short time afterwards, when we put our experience and knowledge to work.  After some initial investigation, we discovered that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York was investigating an international computer hacking ring and that they believed Dave was involved.  They initially intended on charging Dave with the serious felony of Computer Hacking under Title 18, United States Code, Section 1030(a)(i), which carries a potential sentence of 10 years in federal prison.

After a diligent and thorough examination of the evidence and Dave’s background, it became clear that Dave was not an international computer hacker.  Rather, Dave was a down on his luck twenty-something, who had a troubled past.  Dave had a difficult upbringing, growing up in a violence-filled household, child welfare agents constantly around.     Dave witnessed abuse of his mother by his father and his sister’s suicide attempt.  Dave sunk into deep depression.  He spent more and more time and energy on the computer, eventually suffering an addiction to computer gaming and usage.  Dave hit rock bottom when he wandered onto a website that promoted computer hacking – it described how to do it, and sold software that enabled the hacking.  In a weak moment, Dave purchased the software and began to use it to look at other’s computer files, including his girlfriends.  Dave wasn’t proud of his conduct, but because of his addiction, he couldn’t help himself.  Dave didn’t try to steal credit card information, or his victim’s identification.  Rather, he was only falling deeper into his computer addiction. Continue reading

It may be great tabloid fodder for the foreseeable future, but hacking computers, PCs, mobile devices and Apple’s ICloud is a very dangerous and risky pastime.  Sure, sharing intimate and naked photos of Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton and Kirsten Dunst may be good for sophomoric kicks and gossip sites. Arguably, many of the images of the also-rans and lesser knowns who were exposed may have secondary and post embarrassment value in boosting their respective profiles. Irrespective of the consequences to the victims both “good” and bad, computer hacking is a serious Federal crime with equally serious punishment. Make no mistake. You need not be the anonymous celebrity hacker to feel the power and wrath of law enforcement from Federal agents to prosecutors. There will be few, if any, Federal judges who will not come down hard with bail upon your arrest or punish you severely at your sentencing should you be convicted of a computer hacking offense. If nothing else is clear, you and your criminal lawyer will have a long road ahead if you are accused, the target, or a subject of a computer hacking offense. If prosecutors have successfully executed search warrants and found materials on your computers, tracked IP information, and obtained any statements from you during the course of their investigation, your predicament can easily go from bad to worse.

The following blog entry will address some of the potential Federal crimes that the anonymous celebrity hacker  – or anyone – would face if prosecuted in Manhattan’s Southern District of New York, Brooklyn’s Eastern District of New York, Newark’s District of New Jersey or any other Federal jurisdiction.

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