The age of the personal computing and the Internet has changed life on a massive scale. In just a few decades, whether you live in Milwaukee or Northern Wisconsin's wilderness, we have gone from a culture that didn't know what a personal computer was to nearly everyone having a "smart" something in their pockets or briefcases.
But with the resulting explosion of information and the growth in systems with which to share it faster, have also come new threats of fraud and theft as a result of Internet crimes.
Authorities are doing what they can to respond to these new forms of crime. Prosecutors are going after suspects with vigor. But the spread of the problem is also challenging enforcement, leading to greater inter-agency collaboration than ever before.
An example of this may be in one effort now under way in Madison. Police report that they are working with federal authorities after discovering that a distinct pocket of East Madison residents appear to have become victims of identity thieves.
Officials say that the victims' personal information has been used to open up new credit card accounts that have been used to make purchases at a wide variety of major retail stores in other states. In one instance, a woman in Madison reported that someone in Texas used her data to create seven new accounts, racking up charges of nearly $20,000.
Police say they don't know why the victims are all clustered in the same Madison neighborhood. They suspect that what may have happened is that hackers roamed the area in cars and somehow managed to tap into people's wireless Internet connection systems.
There's no detail on how many people have been affected, or how close authorities may be to finding the culprits and making arrests.
As has already been noted, the government takes these kinds of crimes very seriously. Often the crimes are committed across state lines, bringing federal authorities into the picture. That means that someone charged with an Internet crime is likely to face the harsher penalties that come with conviction in federal court. That's not a fate anyone should face without appropriate counsel.
Source: Channel3000.com, "Out-of-state scammers target Madison residents," July 26, 2012
- Our firm handles situations stemming from charges related to Internet crimes. If you would like to know more about our practice, visit our Wisconsin fraud and theft defense page.