Houman Fakhimi

California is King When it Comes to Cyber Crime

Internet crimes are on the rise throughout the country (and the world), and are increasingly on law enforcement radar.

San Bernardino Criminal Defense Lawyer Houman Fakhimi understands that the paranoia surrounding the world wide web has reached such a fever pitch that even some mainstream media outlets are declaring that we may see full-scale "cyber wars" launched against the U.S. by hostile governments, such as Iran.

On a smaller scale, it's well-known that California leads the nation in cyber crimes.

In 2011, the year for which we have the most recent statistics, there were an estimated 315,000 reports of cybercrimes across the country. California accounted for about 35,000 of those, followed by Florida, Texas, New York and Ohio.

This is approximately a 3.5 percent jump from the year before, according to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (a partnership among the Federal Bureau of Investigations, the U.S. Department of Justice and the National White Collar Crime Center). Still, in relation to other types of crimes - say burglary or robbery - it's relatively minimal.

The crimes vary in their scope, depending on the motivation. The seemingly most common form of cybercrime is identity theft. This is when an entity or person obtains personal information in order to commit fraud. Some examples would be fake job postings in order to reel people into depositing bad checks or romance scams, where a person is seduced into sending money to an online suitor. On average, these types of scams cost victims roughly $4,200 a piece, according to the complaint center.

In California, the local FBI office says that identity theft scams are the most common, followed by advanced-fee, non-delivery scams. These would be theft crimes in which a person might respond to an online advertisement for a certain product or service. The alleged victim pays the money upfront, but then never receives that product or service.

Then there are also cyber crimes involving child pornography. California Penal Code 311.3 and 311.11 address the issue of dissemination of child pornography. When it comes to the Internet, however, federal authorities often get involved because the material has the potential to become global. The most common type of federal charges we'll see in this regard are importation or transportation of obscene matters, transportation of obscene matters for distribution, engaging in the business of selling or transferring obscene matters and sexual exploitation of minors.

These types of crimes have been around for years. But they are ballooning as more and more people have access to the Internet on their phones. In fact, a recent Pew study found that nearly 85 percent of U.S. adults have a cell phone.

Increased focus and enforcement efforts mean there is a greater potential for more innocent people to get swept up in false allegations or trumped-up charges.

We recognize that defending a client against an allegation of this nature requires a law firm with ample resources and experience.