Internet fraud law is becoming increasingly important. According to figures from January 2017 in the latest Crime Survey of the UK, online fraud is now the most common crime in the country with almost one in ten people falling victim.
Computer fraud law can be notoriously complex and ambiguity exists around when it is breached. Keith J Tuck is one of Scotland’s premier defence lawyers, and has developed a highly successful practice of defending clients facing allegations of inetrnet fraud. If you need to entrust your case to a specialist fraud lawyer that understands what is at stake, contact Keith J Tuck today.
What is Internet Fraud Law?
The law as it stands aims to shield both the public and businesses from criminal activity in various online activities. The most prominent forms of internet based fraud are the following:
- Identity theft
- Pharming attacks
- Website hijacking
- Click fraud
The main legislation covering this area is the Computer Misuse Act 1990. It has been amended several times due to the rapid development and growth of the internet alongside increasingly deviant activity by criminals online. That said, in many cases, an act is fraudulent irrespective of whether it is internet-based. In these circumstances other laws may apply. In many cases in Scotland, criminal fraud such as this will mainly be dealt with under the common law and a number of statutory offences.
The internet has also given significant value and access to personal data. It is no surprise therefore that identity theft has also increased.
It is important to note, that there is no definition of computer material within CMA 1990. This has allowed CMA 1990 to apply to new pieces of technology which are constantly emerging. However, it has been accepted that computer can cover any device for storing and processing information.
Internet fraud is a wide area of the law, and so if you are unsure of your legal position, contact our specialist team today.
Who Investigates fraud?
The internet has facilitated the rise of computer based crime which is acknowledged as a major international issue. The UK government agrees and views cybercrime as a national security threat and has prioritised funding for the investigation and prosecution of such offences.
Fraud committed in Scotland is usually investigated by Police Scotland, which has regional specialist units within Specialist Crime Division to deal with complex economic crime cases. It commonly covers two areas:
- Offences committed under the Misuse of Computer Acts 1990, such as hacking or stealing data; or,
- Where technology facilitates the commission of an offence, suahc as fraud.
COPFS is the main prosecuting authority in Scotland. Most fraud prosecution are dealt with by the local Procurator Fiscal. They may choose to pass the matter to the Crown Office’s Economic Crime Unit if they consider the crime serious enough.
It is also important to note that the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has jurisdiction to prosecute any UK or overseas company for offences under the Bribery Act.
Once a decision has been made on whether there is sufficient evidence to establish that a crime has taken place, an individual will either be served with
- A summary complaint for less serious crimes which is heard by a sheriff sitting without a jury
- An indictment for more serious crimes in either the Sheriff Court with a jury or the High Court.
What are the Consequences of Internet Fraud?
If a person is found to have breached the Computer Misuse Act 190, the penalties can range from:
- Two years’ imprisonment and/or a fine for authorised access to computer material;
- Up to five years and/or a fine for unauthorised access with intent to commit or facilitate commission of further offences;
- Up to 10 years and/or a fine for unauthorised modification of computer material; and imprisonment for life and/or a fine for a breach.
Offences successfully prosecuted under common law can attract equally heavy penalties, including up to life imprisonment or unlimited fine or both if convicted on indictment. A summary conviction can lead to 12 months’ imprisonment, a prescribed fine or both.
Following conviction, the prosecutor can use its power given to it under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 to confiscate a fixed sum of money relating to the benefit obtained from their general criminal conduct in a criminal lifestyle case, and from their particular criminal conduct otherwise.
If you have been accused of breaking internet fraud law, you must get qualified legal advice as soon as possible. Your solicitor can give you help, advice and support as your case progresses.
Contact our Internet Fraud Lawyers in Glasgow, Scotland
Fraud cases can be both intrusive and distressing and if you would like to obtain legal advice about internet fraud law, we can put you in touch with a local specialist technology fraud solicitor. An experiences solicitor can be available at any time to assist you, if you have been accused of a compute based or internet fraud. We believe here at Keith J Tuck Solicitors in challenging evidence and we firmly believe that people are innocent until proven guilty. As such we question every part of the investigation and the evidence and our aim is to ensure that your case is vigorously defended. Contact us today by calling 01413362020 or by completing our online enquiry form.