A theft occurs when an individual takes another individual’s property with the intent to permanently deprive them of that property. Under the law, however, there are different levels of theft as well as different crimes which may carry a range of penalties.

In addition, a theft may be classified as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances of each case. Examples of minor thefts include when an individual steals items including clothes of jewelry of a lower value.

This type of theft is often classified as a misdemeanor theft or a petty theft. Although each state sets its own maximum value for petty theft, it is typically less than $1,000.

Examples of more serious thefts include a vehicle theft crime, a large sum of cash, or high valued jewelry. Each state will classify offenses based upon the type of theft that occurs, the value of the property which was stolen, and if there were any aggravating factors present.

If an individual steals more valuable property, it is commonly referred to as grand larceny or grand theft. Theft by deception is similar to conning.

With a theft by deception, an individual intentionally and purposely obtains property which belongs to another individual using deceptive tactics. A theft by deception is similar to theft because it involves taking another individual’s property or services on purpose.

Theft by deception, however, also involves deception or trickery. In general, in these types of cases, the victim of a theft by deception relies upon the lies, or deceit, which is claimed as truth by the thief.

What Are Some Examples of Theft by Deception?

A case which involves theft by deception can be categorized as a false impression matter or an intentional misrepresentation. Although the exact legal definitions of these types of thefts may vary by state, their definitions generally include false impressions and misrepresentations.

A false impression occurs when the perpetrator creates a misconception and the victim relies upon it as truth. One of the more common examples of a false impression is a restaurant dine and dash where an individual dines at a restaurant and gives the impression that they intend to pay for the meal. In the end, however, they eat their meal and sneak out without actually paying the restaurant.

An intentional misrepresentation occurs when an individual knowingly omits or lies about information which another individual relies on. For example, if an individual steals car stereos from vehicles and then sells them to a used retail shop, such as a pawn shop.

They sell the stereos as if they belong to them. The store owner then purchases the stereos because they relied on the intentional misrepresentation of the stereo thieves.

Another common example of theft by deception is phishing. Phishing is done when a potential criminal sends out a message via phone, text, or e-mail.

The goal of this phishing message is to give the unsuspecting recipient of the message the impression that they are part of a legitimate organization or company, such as one the recipient is involved with. The victims of phishing may provide their confidential information, which may include:

  • Social Security numbers;
  • Bank account information; and
  • Credit card access.

Phishing scams often lead to cases of identity theft. Stolen credit cards are another common example of thefts by deception which may also be part of identity theft cases.

The perpetrator who is using the stolen credit card may provide a store owner with the false impression that the credit card belongs to them. In the alternative, the perpetrator may intentionally misrepresent that they have the card owner’s permission to use the card.

Either way, using another individual’s credit card without their permission is a crime.

What is Internet Theft?

Internet theft is a broad term which may refer to any type of theft which involves the use of the internet. These types of crimes are also called computer crimes or violations of cyberspace laws.

Because the internet is relatively new, the laws which govern the usage of the internet may vary widely across jurisdictions. The following types of internet activities, however, may be classified under the broad umbrella term of internet theft:

What Types of Information Are Susceptible to Internet Theft?

There is a wide range of types of information which may be subject to an internet theft, including:

  • Names;
  • Addresses;
  • Telephone numbers;
  • E-mail addresses;
  • Bank account information; and
  • Credit card information.

An internet thief can target this type of information and then use it to commit other crimes over the internet. It is important for individuals to be very careful regarding providing their personal or confidential information over the internet.

Even a trust website may be subject to hacking. In addition, information which seems private on a website may be accessed by the public without the user being aware that the information is, in fact, being shared.

What is Internet Theft of Service?

Internet theft typically refers to the types of crimes discussed above. Internet theft of service, however, is a different type of crime which is usually in its own category.

Internet theft of service is the theft of the internet service itself. This may be done by the physical rerouting of internet cables or by hacking into a wi-fi connection account.

For example, if an individual uses their neighbor’s internet without having their permission or without the permission of the internet service provider, they may be subject to criminal penalties. The majority of internet service providers do not permit neighbors to share wi-fi, even if the party who subscribes allows this type of sharing.

Another common example of theft of internet service is also called piggybacking or mooching. This occurs when an individual is near a wi-fi connection and is able to gain access to that wi-fi internet service.

This may occur when there is an open wi-fi connection or the individual is able to figure out the individual’s internet password and use their internet service. This activity is considered a crime in many jurisdictions.

What Are the Penalties for Internet Theft Crimes?

In many states, internet theft of service is classified as a misdemeanor and is punishable by possible sentences and criminal fines. Other offenses, including internet piracy or internet identity theft may be treated more seriously.

In addition, a repeat offender may be subject to felony charges following their second or third internet offense. The majority of internet crimes are committed in conjunction with other types of crimes.

For example, a pirated video or music may be distributed in a larger trade circle of illegal goods. An individual who obtains identity information frequently may distribute that information through an underground black market or other illegal circles.

Internet theft charges may result in complicated lawsuits which involve multiple offenses and multiple parties.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Internet Theft Issues?

It is essential to have the assistance of a criminal lawyer for any issues, questions, or concerns you may have related to internet theft issues. An internet theft crime is serious and may cause major losses to a victim.

If you believe you have been victimized by internet theft, it is important to contact your lawyer as soon as possible. Your lawyer may be able to help you recover the losses you suffered from the theft.

If you have been charged with an internet theft offense, it is important to contact your lawyer as soon as you can. Your lawyer will explain the laws of your state, what defenses may be available to you, and represent you in court.