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What is a phishing scam?

Many St. Louis residents have grown accustomed to using the internet on a regular basis in their personal and professional lives. While the internet has revolutionized the way individuals communicate and interact with one another, it has also resulted in many new criminal charges being brought against individuals for various forms of internet crime.

One particular allegation that can be brought against a person involves a phishing scam. While this term may sound unfamiliar, many individuals may be familiar with the basic allegation of a phishing scam, which involves an allegation that a person has defrauded someone else into providing personal information.

There are many different ways in which a phishing scam can be alleged. For instance, when emails or pop-up messages ask for personal or financial information, it can be considered phishing. Often times these emails may appear to be sent from an authorized business or other entity, such as a bank or financial institution. Accordingly, those receiving the message may reply to it and provide their financial information, which can then be used by the person who sent the email.

Phishing scams are similar to other kinds of fraud allegations, as they involve the claim that one is pretending to be someone they are not or gaining access to information in an unauthorized manner. However, because the phishing scam is done in a particular way, such as by using email, pop-up messages or other communications involving the internet, the details of these allegations can make all the difference between guilt or innocence. The government has a high burden of proof it must satisfy in order to convict a person of a phishing scam, and therefore individuals should be prepared to fully understand the charges and vigorously defend themselves against the allegations.

Source: Federal Trade Commission, "Consumer information," accessed on April 4, 2015

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