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Portland Federal Criminal Defense Law Blog

What makes identity theft 'aggravated?'

Identity theft has been around since the days where people would steal checking account statements out of a mailbox or someone's driver's license or credit card. The victim could suffer financial damage, not to mention significant inconvenience, to be sure. However, with so much of our business and personal activity now done online, the potential loss, and therefore the penalties, are much greater.

While identity theft is a federal crime, it's also a state crime. Here in Oregon, a conviction for identity theft is an automatic Class C felony. It carries a "presumptive sentence" of 13 months in prison. However, that sentence can be longer for those who have previous identity theft convictions. It may also be extended if credit card fraud, forgery or a computer crime was involved.

Potentially dangerous tweets can bring criminal charges

A type of cybercrime that marks "a new era," according to one computer scientist has gained nationwide attention recently. A 29-year-old man was arrested for sending a tweet to Newsweek's Kurt Einchenwald that was intended to cause the famed journalist, who suffers from epilepsy, to have a seizure.

It accomplished its intended task when he opened the tweet, which contained a flashing image, back in December. According to Eichenwald, he'd received a similar tweet just a few weeks before. He says he dropped his iPad as soon as he saw it, so avoided any harm that time.

Defense plans might require several components

We recently discussed how fraud can come from creative accounting. The fact here is that you have to do everything on the up and up when you are dealing with the finances of a business, or even your own finances. Doing anything that might be construed as fraud can start an investigation.

When you are facing these types of charges, you will likely have to go through a lot of evidence. These charges usually come after an in depth investigation. You must carefully consider each piece of evidence and how it can impact your defense.

Creative accounting or bank fraud: understanding check kiting

What you might see as creative accounting or simple desperate measures to keep your household or business afloat short-term could actually be bank fraud. Check kiting occurs when someone uses more than one bank account, writing checks and depositing them in a circular fashion to make it look like funds are present when they are not. This is possible when someone uses the bank float system to their advantage, and it is illegal.

Here's a basic example of how check kiting works. Someone who has fallen on hard times might need to pay their mortgage, which is $1,000. That same person knows they won't have the $1,000 for two weeks, but they can't wait that long to make the payment because they believe it will cause their loan to default. So, they write a check to the mortgage company from bank A. They then write a check to themselves from bank B and deposit it into bank A.

Online crime trends include both new ventures and very old crimes

Online crimes can take many different forms, as the Internet creates a level of versatility and flexibility that allows it to be utilized however the user desires. When looking at trends and data from recent years, it's clear that some crimes are very new and based solely on the Internet, while others are older crimes that have been around forever, just re-geared for life online.

For instance, one report claimed that extortion schemes carried out online often use Bitcoin as their currency. This is solely an online currency, which could make tracking movements more complicated. It would not exist without the Internet.

Can you be charged with conspiracy without committing the crime?

Conspiracy charges are handed out when multiple people work together toward some criminal goal, perhaps planning out a crime or agreeing to go in on it together. They then start working toward that goal.

Often, these charges come after the crime has been completed. The people involved are charged both with the crime itself and with conspiracy to commit said crime before the event took place. But what if you never actually got around to carrying out the crime? Can you still be charged with conspiracy?

Did your teenager vandalize a mailbox?

Teenagers are by nature irrepressible, often engaging in hijinks out of boredom. But sometimes their behavior crosses the line into criminal territory.

Mailbox vandalism is one of those examples where horseplay among teens or young adults has gone a step too far. This criminal act is actually a federal offense, and the vandals can face very serious consequences as a result.

New immigration laws can make lawful residents' status uncertain

These uncertain political times make it a risky time to be an immigrant in America. Here in Oregon, one immigrants' rights group is being proactive against the proposed travel and immigration bans.

On Feb. 1, Unite Oregon filed a federal lawsuit in Portland against President Trump. Their lawsuit seeks an injunction against the executive order Trump issued regarding immigration policies.

Is Best Buy an arm of the Federal Bureau of Investigation?

How far can a computer repair company go in ferreting out child porn on the computers it repairs for its customers?

That's a question Best Buy Geek Squad technicians are facing. Allegedly, some of the techs have received remuneration as paid informants of the Federal Bureau of Investigation for their work identifying signs of child pornography on customers' computers.

Don't get caught for fraud!

One type of fraud for which you can be arrested and convicted is to send out fake invoices that are actually solicitations. While they may contain disclaimers somewhere in small print stating, "This is not a bill," that is not sufficient.

Harried office managers eager to clear out in-boxes can fall for these scams and wind up paying for goods or services that were never received or rendered. They might pass it on to Tim over in Accounting for a second look, but chances are just as good that they will whip out the checkbook and send it off, especially if it is for under $100.

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