South Florida online privacy at issue in nationwide debate over Electronic Communications Privacy Act

The U.S. Supreme Court herd arguments this week with broad implications for everyone who has used an employer’s computer or cell phone to send private messages. In a case involving a California police officer who sent racy text messages using a city pager, the court is being asked to determine the extent to which such private communications can be used against citizens by employers, law enforcement and government agencies, according to the New York Times.

As our computer crimes attorneys reported recently in a four-part series published on our Miami Criminal Attorney blog, South Florida is at the forefront of the nationwide battle against computer crimes and the debate over search and seizure of e-mails.

Meanwhile, Congress is set to hold hearings on “much-needed updates” to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, Information Week reported.

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Seizure of e-mail, electronic communications a critical issue for South Florida defense attorneys

Search and seizure of e-mails from homes or businesses in the Miami area and throughout South Florida has become an increasing issue in white-collar criminal cases.

This is the fourth blog in a four-part series on South Florida computer crime. Last week, our Miami criminal defense lawyers examined computer intrusion and the damage caused by malicious computer hackers or those engaged in corporate espionage or the theft of trade secrets.

Instances of government overreaching have grown astronomically since the passage of the Patriot Act in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorism attacks. Just this week, Salon published a report regarding the U.S. Department of Justice’s quest for all e-mails sent or received using numerous Yahoo accounts, despite the lack of a warrant or other disclosed probable cause.

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South Florida computer intrusion involves businesses, unsuspecting consumers

Every day, criminals invade countless homes and business across the country — not by burglary or other unlawful entry, but by computer intrusion. The results of hacking, spyware and other malicious computer spying cost billions of dollars each year in damaged computer equipment, stolen company information and credit card fraud, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

This is the second blog in a four-part series on computer crimes. Last week, our Miami criminal attorneys posted a report on auction fraud in South Florida.

Computer intrusion stems from any number of sources, from hackers seeking attention to corporate espionage and the theft of trade secrets.

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Internet auction fraud a growing concern in Miami

Internet auction fraud, and fraud involving online auction sites like eBay, continues to make news in the Miami area. As we reported last week on Miami Criminal Attorney blog, online auction fraud is a significant contributor to the 336,655 Internet crimes reported nationwide in 2009. In all, Internet fraud cost $560 million last year.

Auction fraud involves fraud attributed to misrepresenting a product for sale through the Internet or failure to deliver or pay for a product purchased through an Internet auction site.

Nearly 3 in 10 Internet criminals identified last year were residing in Florida — more than any other state in the nation except California. And in February, a former Miami-Dade man was sentenced to 5 1/2 years in prison for scamming eBay customers out of hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to the Miami Herald.

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Miami computer crimes, Internet fraud crimes, on the rise

Authorities contend that 3 of every 10 U.S. computer crimes originated in Florida last year in cases where an arrest was made.

The number of Miami residents victimized by computer crimes continues to increase, even as state, local and federal governments continue to pour resources into the prosecution of white-collar computer crimes in Miami. And, as the focus on computer crimes continues to grow, so do the instances of wrongful arrest. In this series, the Miami defense attorneys at Barakat, Jacobs & Associates will look at eBay and computer auction fraud, computer intrusion and search and seizure of e-mails.

Just this week, Reuters News reported that one of the world’s most notorious computer hackers, a 28-year-old college dropout from Miami, was sentenced to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to charges accusing him of helping to run a global computer fraud ring that stole tens of millions of dollars in credit card numbers.

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