chicago defense lawyerWhether you have heard this type of scheme referred to as “phishing” or not, you are likely familiar with the scheme itself. “Phishing” involves pretending to be someone else in order to gain access to sensitive information. While no specific federal statute criminalizes phishing specifically, phishing is a common precursor to other internet crimes, like identity theft and wire fraud. If you are facing a criminal charge as a result of a phishing scheme, you should make securing strong legal representation your top priority. 

What is Phishing? 

Phishing is when a scammer sends an email or makes a phone call impersonating someone else in an effort to gain access to sensitive information. One common example of a phishing scheme is when someone sends out a mass email pretending to be from a bank and asking recipients to turn over personal information, such as their social security number or account numbers. The phisher then uses that fraudulently obtained information to steal the victim’s identity. 

Corporations are common targets in phishing schemes as well. Criminals attempting to gain access to trade secrets or corporate accounts may impersonate corporate officials, call employees asking for login information, or instruct them to send money. Phishers hope that employees will simply comply with a request they believe is coming from their boss. 

Illionois defense attorney,  Illinois criminal defense lawyerBillions of people use search engines such as Google every day to look up information, videos, local businesses, and more. Most searches conducted are fairly innocent and will not attract the interest of federal authorities, such as the FBI. Unfortunately, there are some search terms that could catch their attention, and that may even leave you facing federal criminal charges. It is important to know what these search terms are, as even just searching for mere interest's sake may not provide a valid defense. Child Pornography Generally speaking, viewing pornography online is not a criminal act. However, when pornographic material depicts children under the age of 18, it is considered child pornography, a federal offense that state and federal law enforcement officials take very seriously. Searching for child pornography, even if you do not view it, may also be considered a crime as those searches will remain in your history and could technically mean that you were in possession of the material. In some cases, a person may view pornographic material depicting children by accident. Still, proving your actions were accidental is extremely challenging. Other Illegal Searches Although child pornography may be the most commonly thought of search that is illegal, there are other terms that are considered illegal as well. Any term related to terrorist acts, such as how to build a bomb, are also flagged by federal authorities and are heavily investigated. Agencies such as the FBI will likely look at the rest of your search history to try and determine if you were engaging in illegal activity. Copyright material is also found extensively online. In fact, most of the content online is protected by federal law. Streaming this material or downloading it to your computer is also considered a criminal offense, as it violates federal law. Penalties for Illegal Searches The penalties for conducting an illegal search, if convicted, will vary depending on the actual offense committed. Child pornography and searches related to terrorism acts carry the heaviest sentences, with jail time and high fines likely possibilities. Many people think that violating copyright law may not be a major offense, but that crime too, can result in heavy penalties. Fines associated with violating copyright law are quite steep, and it is possible to face jail time, as well. Any time someone is accused of conducting an illegal search, their computer will likely be seized so law enforcement can delve deeper into their history. Individuals will also be questioned extensively, and perhaps even pressured or coerced into admitting that they committed an act when they did no such thing. Our Chicago Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer is Here to Help

Few people consider that conducting a search online could result in criminal charges. Unfortunately, it happens all too frequently. If you have been accused of conducting an illegal online search and are facing charges, call our skilled Chicago federal criminal defense lawyer at the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel today. Attorney Garfinkel knows that not everyone charged with a federal crime is guilty, and he has the necessary experience to help defendants beat the most serious federal charges. Call us at 312-629-0669 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation and to learn more about how he can help.


Is Hacking a Crime?

Posted on in Computer Crime

Illionois defense attorney,  Illinois criminal defense lawyerIt was in late 2018 when Russian citizen, Anton Bogdanov, was deported from Thailand to the United States. Recently, at the end of April, the US Federal Court leveled several accusations against him. Included in those accusations was the crime of hacking.

Many today are familiar with the term of hacking. Whether they have heard of hacking into a school’s system to change grades, or hacking into a banking database, everyone essentially knows what hacking is. However, is it an actual crime? If so, what are the consequences?

The Federal Laws on Hacking


Thirty Years Ago: First Major Internet Attack

Posted on in Computer Crime
Illionois defense attorney, Illinois federal crimes lawyer, Illinois criminal defense lawyerOn November 2, 1988, a cyber worm was disseminated on the Internet from a computer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Thirty years ago, the Internet was a different place; there were only 60,000 computers online, most of them at prestigious colleges and universities or research centers. Of those, 6,000 computers were infected over the course of 24 hours. The worm hit computers running a certain version of the Unix operating system. Infected computers began to run very slowly with many vital functions delayed for days. It was hard to ascertain the amount of monetary damages caused. Estimates ranged from $100,000 to millions of dollars. Who was behind this first-of-its-kind attack? A 23-year-old programmer named Robert Tappan Morris from Cornell. Morris hacked into the MIT computer system from Cornell to cover his tracks. Morris maintained that the worm was more of a test and that he surprised himself at how quickly it spread. He tried to issue a statement through a friend with details on how to remove the worm, but ironically, the message could not be disseminated due to the slowness of the Internet for those affected. Federal prosecutors charged Morris with the 1986 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and he was the first person found guilty under the law. Morris did not have to go to jail. Instead, he was sentenced to probation, a fine and 400 hours of community service. It is said that the Morris Worm has served as inspiration for generations of computer hackers. Indeed, the weaponization of the internet has become more sophisticated over the last 30 years. As hackers’ attacks have become more potent and the number of Internet users has skyrocketed, the federal government has because more involved in catching hackers and charging them with crimes.

Contact a Chicago, IL Internet Crimes Defense Lawyer

Those accused of cyber crimes need a criminal defense attorney who is well-versed in federal law, who understands the latest in technology and who has a network of experts who can aid the court in understanding your defense. An experienced Chicago, IL federal crimes defense attorney is ready to review your case and determine your best defenses.

Because of our attorney’s years of experience in criminal defense in the federal court system, he also is knowledgeable on plea deals and negotiating with prosecutors. Call our office today at 312-629-0669 to set up a free consultation.



Illionois defense attorney, Illinois federal crimes lawyer, Illinois criminal defense lawyerOctober is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, which seeks to remind businesses and the public of the crimes that can be perpetrated online and the ways everyone can make the internet more secure. The National Cybersecurity Awareness Month was created in 2004 by the Department of Homeland Security and the National Cyber Security Alliance.

The FBI takes this opportunity to remind the public of major recent federal charges and convictions in the online arena, including:

  • The conviction of an online actor who tried to access university databases to commit fraud and identity theft;
  • Charges against a North Korean regime-backed programmer; and
  • Seventy-four arrests in this country and abroad of members of an international criminal network participating in a plan to infiltrate business email accounts.

“Realistically, we know we can’t prevent every attack, or punish every hacker,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said. Director Wray added that the FBI will continue to build on the initiatives it has in place to ferret out cybercrime and will continue to try to forge new partnerships with tech companies and others to keep the U.S. at the forefront of cybersecurity.

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