In today’s world, a person doesn’t have to be a skilled computer expert in order to be charged with computer crimes. Recently, a Memphis private investigator found this out the hard way. His legal access to a well-known database eventually led to federal charges being brought against him.
According to the secret service, the private investigator was allegedly using his access to a database called Lexis Nexis for illegal purposes. Investigators claim a woman gave the man the tag numbers of 46 expensive vehicles so that he could use the numbers to find names, social security numbers, spousal information and addresses of the owners. Allegations also include that the woman gave the private investigator $1,000 in exchange for the information. The man is now charged with computer crimes and identity theft. He is currently in jail on a $100,000 bond. The case is still under investigation.
Being charged with computer crimes can result in serious penalties. Computer crime laws can prohibit various activities if a person does not have authorization, including accessing a computer, interfering with someone else’s computer use, falsifying e-mail information and using an information service from a provider. These laws can also prohibit modifying, using, copying or taking programs and data.
It has not been reported whether the investigator knew he was committing a crime. Without fully understanding one’s authorization for computer use, a person could be at risk of unknowingly committing an illegal act. As this case shows, a person doesn’t have to be tech savvy in order to be accused of doing something illegal on a computer.
Source: WMC-TV, “Private investigator accused of stealing wealthy people’s personal info,” Nick Kenney, Sept. 7, 2012