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What is phishing and spoofing and are they Internet crimes?

Let's be honest: Marketing in the modern age is both harder and easier than ever before. It's easier because every business has a chance. No matter how small your budget might be, a smart marketing effort can net you a big following in the Internet.

Marketing is hard today for the same reason. So many people have access to the Internet and its marketing resources that you have to compete with hundreds, thousands or even millions of voices for customer attention. It can be tempting to turn to "smart" marketing tips or tricks to cut through the volume. But be careful that your "smart marketing" idea isn't actually illegal.

While you might associate email phishing and spoofing with fraud and identity theft, some organizations inadvertently wander into criminal waters when trying to capture market attention. Spoofing might sound especially tempting. What if you sent marketing information to customers and made it look like it came from a celebrity or a larger, well-known company? Wouldn't that make it more likely someone would click on your links?

If you don't mean any harm and you aren't asking for personal information, what does it hurt? The truth is, such activity might walk a very thin line and it's easy to tip over into the criminal area.

It's best to avoid activities that could be considered phishing or spoofing. If you've been charged with fraud or other crimes associated with such activity, though, then it's best to get to work right away on your defense. A lawyer experienced in Internet crime defense can help you understand your options and make the best decisions moving forward.

Source: FindLaw, "What is Email Phishing and Spoofing?," accessed April 22, 2016

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