Fraud is an attempt to deceive others or gain information that may be used to harm them. When such activities are conducted through electronic means, it is generally referred to as computer fraud. Examples of computer fraud in Texas and around the country may include sending spam or hoax emails asking for individuals to send money or installing spyware on their devices. Those who use another person’s computer without consent may also be engaging in this type of fraud.

Those who intentionally commit computer fraud may be subject to both civil and criminal penalties. For example, someone who creates a chain letter that contains a virus designed to harm another device may face both types of penalties. However, someone who accidentally forwards a message containing a virus is generally not guilty of fraud because there was no intent to harm another person or device.

Individuals are advised to not give out any sensitive information online. This may include a Social Security number, credit card number or any personal account number. Those who encounter messages containing get rich quick schemes or other investing schemes that promise large returns, it is best to ignore them. As a general rule, if something sounds too good to be true, it generally is. It is also a good idea to not open emails or attachments from unknown senders.

Fraud can be a very serious federal crime, with resulting significant penalties if a conviction is obtained, including imprisonment and hefty fines. A conviction could also have an adverse impact on future educational or career opportunities. As a result, people who are facing these types of charges may want to meet as soon as possible with an attorney so that a strategy to challenge the allegations can be developed.