While overall crime in the UK has been falling for years, the internet has provided opportunities for offending and the Office for National Statistics estimates that over 5 million people each year are affected by fraud and computer misuse. The reasons for this are perhaps obvious, people are by and large less sure of what they need to do to protect their security online and those committing crime can reach many people simultaneously. Also, the police require significant resources to detect and prosecute complex crime of this nature.
At Old Bailey Solicitors, we have found that we can more effectively represent our clients if we add to our own legal skills the expertise of computer experts and forensic accountants. Many people accused of internet offending have themselves been duped or taken advantage of by others. Of course, internet crime is a broad area and we have represented clients in a variety of different areas:
VIEWING ILLEGAL MATERIAL
We have represented many clients accused of possessing or distributing unlawful pornography. The main category involve unlawful images of children but more recently, extreme pornography has also been made unlawful.
Where cases are taken to trial we can instruct computer experts to analyse the pattern of viewing, assess who might have had access to the machine and explore flaws in the prosecution evidence. In many cases we have assisted clients who wish to plead guilty. Here, we have sought to re-categorise the images if possible and develop powerful mitigation. Preparation for these hearings is key and can make a significant difference to the sentence passed.
USE OF THE “DARK WEB”
The “dark web” is a collection of websites which is visible to the public but the IP addresses are hidden. This makes them more difficult for law enforcement agencies to track and investigate. Significant resources are now being put into precisely that. We have represented clients accused of unlawful activity involving the dark web including the purchase and importation of firearms from the United States.
Alongside the viewing of unlawful material, the most common area of offending on the internet is fraud. There are a huge array:
- Account takeover – where the offender pretends to be a genuine customer and makes unlawful transactions.
- Advance fee frauds – getting victims to pay up front for goods that are never delivered.
- Business opportunity fraud – these generally involve a scam whereby a person is induced to part with a fee in return for the opportunity to earn money self employed.
- Charity donation fraud – These rely on the goodwill of people who wish to make donations to what appear to be worthy causes.
- Click fraud – This is a method, often automated, by which companies are forced to pay significant sums for “pay per click” advertising.
- Fraud recovery fraud – This involves tricking people who have already been the victims of fraud into paying for the recovery of those sums.
- Identity fraud – Stealing people’s identity and security details in order to make purchases or move funds.
- Land banking scams – These are scams often involving the purchase of small plots of land for investment purposes.
- Loan scams – These involve paying an up-front fee for a loan.
- Mass marketing fraud – These scams usually involve the false promise of cash and other prizes.
- Money muling – People tricked into helping move criminal money abroad.
- Online shopping fraud – The promise of goods that never arrive.
At Old Bailey Solicitors we have represented clients in large-scale frauds of all types. Many have involved use of the internet and we are used to tracking evidence across emails, banking records and telephone data. We call in expert help from computer and accountancy experts where required and aim to provide a comprehensive service to our clients. We have a long history of conducting complex cases in a way that can be readily understood by the clients who retain us. We would be pleased to do the same for you.