April 27, 2015

Repeat Offender Charged with One Count of Cyber Child Solicitation

A 25-year-old Madison, Alabama man named Justin David Beatty was recently taken into custody on a single count of electronic solicitation of a child, the result of an ongoing police investigation.

Authorities allege that Beatty solicited a child under the age of 16 to post explicit photos on the Internet. He is being held on a $100,000 bond.

This is not Beatty's first offense. In 2012, he was arrested for the possession of child pornography and allowed to participate in a pretrial intervention program for first-time offenders.

Cases like this one, sadly enough, reinforce public opinion that sexual predators do not benefit from treatment programs, since recidivism rates are high in any case, and there is nothing that can be done about it. In fact, this belief is not true. Recidivism rates among sex offenders is actually lower than that of other criminals, with about a 20 percent reconviction rate for child molesters and a 47 percent reconviction rate for non-sex offenses.

With treatment, these percentages go down. One published review of 80 independent comparisons between those who received treatment and those who did not found that recidivism rates declined 37 percent with treatment, from 17.5 percent in the control group to 11.1 of those who went through treatment programs.

Intervention programs like the one Beatty entered are one of the best ways to lower the rate of child sex offenses. Nevertheless, public perception continues to favor tough sentences and draconian measures aimed at putting offenders in prison for a long time. Unfortunately, the result is that a number of first-time offenders -- approximately 40 percent -- go on to commit non-sexual crimes after serving time behind bars when they could have entered treatment programs instead.

What can you do to respond to cybercrime charges? Call Seltzer Law, P.A. at 1-888-THE-DEFENSE (1-888-843-3333) to speak with an experienced Miami cybercrime defense lawyer about your options.

April 22, 2015

Orange County Technology Expert Charged in 33 Counts of Cybersex

Recent arrest reports suggest that Qayed Murtaza Shareef, the 39-year-old CEO of a Southern California digital advertising company solicited two Virginia boys, aged nine and 10, to take explicit videos of themselves. Per the allegations, Shareef used the messaging app Tango to contact the boys and, eventually, to choreograph the specific sexual acts he wanted them to perform.

Shareef, who maintains his innocence, allegedly sent the boys adult pornography and videos of himself engaged in sex acts. Investigators are concerned that these boys aren't the only victims.

The authorities first became aware of the case over a year ago when one of the boy's mothers found a video on her son's tablet. But due to Shareef's knowledge of computer technology, officials believe he was able to elude investigators.

The Orange County Child Exploitation Task force took Shareef into custody at his Aliso Viejo home and charged him with 33 counts of lewd acts with a child under 14, possession of child pornography, and distribution of pornography to a child. If convicted, he faces 752 years in prison.

This case is disturbing not only because of the crimes themselves but also because it illustrates how easy it is for someone with technological expertise to evade the law. Where an investigation pits the savvy of the alleged criminal against that of the authorities -- who use some of the most advanced technology in the industry to catch predators -- some victims and even some alleged perpetrators may be denied justice under the law.

Your freedom and future may be at stake as a result of false charges of online cybercrime or solicitation. We can help. Call Seltzer Law, P.A. right now at 1-888-THE-DEFENSE (1-888-843-3333) for a free and confidential consultation.

April 13, 2015

First Amendment Impacts Cybercrime Laws in Texas

Glen Timberlake, a 27-year-old from Austin, drove all the way from central Texas to rural Michigan to meet a girl he met online two years ago while playing Minecraft. Police took him into custody when the girl's mother recognized him outside their home. He was carrying a butcher knife and claiming that he "wanted to get some answers."

The mother of the 14-year-old had already notified the authorities some time ago, claiming that the online relationship had became inappropriate, with Timberlake sending the girl videos of himself engaged in sexual acts, at least one involving a dog. The Austin Police Department was aware of Timberlake's odd behavior and had allegedly issued him a warning to stay away from the girl.

Although Timberlake was charged with numerous felonies and placed in jail on a $700,000 bond, authorities were not able to charge him with cyber solicitation of a minor, which carries a stricter penalty, due to recent changes in the statute. The 2013 session of the Texas State Legislature struck down the part of the law that would characterize explicit online conversation with a minor a crime, declaring that it violated the First Amendment. Now, adults are only breaking the law once they cross the line and attempt to act on their words.

Ironically, this change in the law means that a first-time offender caught in a cyber sex sting operation faces more time in prison than a violent interstate stalker like Timberlake.
Changes to the statute have local police departments scrambling to find a more effective way to investigate and prosecute these cases. They are no longer assigning them to the Child Abuse Unit and have moved them over to Human Trafficking, claiming that online predators use the same grooming behaviors and methods to lure their victim as human traffickers do.

A seasoned Miami cybercrimes attorney with Seltzer Law, P.A. can help you understand your defense options and create an effective response to your charges. Call us 24/7/365 at 1-888-THE-DEFENSE (1-888-843-3333).

April 8, 2015

5 Arrested in Colorado Child Prostitution Case

Five men ranging from the age of 19 to 57 were taken into custody by Weld County officials, part of a multi-agency sting operation coordinated by the Department of Homeland Security. Posing as the mother of two girls, aged 11 and 14, an undercover agent placed ads saying that her daughters were available to have sex in exchange for cash. She also exchanged text messages with the men.

Affidavits for the case state that the men traveled to local hotel rooms, expecting to meet either one or both of the girls. They were arrested on the scene.

One of the men, Amis Cody Brownell, age 34, had an active felony warrant for theft in neighboring Larimer County. Officers also found two grams of methamphetamine in Brownell's vehicle when they took him into custody. He faces an additional charge for unlawful possession.

This case, and others like it, raises an uneasy question about the purpose of multi-agency cybercrime sting operations. The vast majority of men apprehended by such operations have no existing criminal record. Yet every once in a while, the sting nets someone with warrants for another arrest or finds incriminating evidence on the suspect's person or in his vehicle.

Some civil libertarians wonder whether cybercrime sting operations are casting a deliberately wide net in order to find criminals outside their intended scope. They fear that these operations may serve to erode defendants' rights and could lead to cases in which individuals receive disproportionately long sentences for their crimes.

Do you stand falsely accused of a serious computer crime? A Florida cybercrime defense lawyer at Seltzer Law, P.A. can help. Please

March 30, 2015

Teacher Arrested by FBI on Child Pornography Charges

The FBI arrested an award-winning Bronx teacher for allegedly using apps like KIK and Instagram to post explicit photos of underage boys as young as 12. The teacher, Jon Cruz, paid the boys in gift card to take nude selfies as well as photos of their feet and faces. He was taken into custody on several charges of producing, receiving, and distributing child pornography.

Cruz caught the attention of federal prosecutors when the parents of one of the boys discovered gift receipts in the boy's email account. They found that Cruz used several IP addresses to access his KIK accounts, one of them linked to the New York City school system.

According to officials, Cruz posed as a teenage boy, using the photo of a former student and claiming that he was "a nerd who had a thing for jocks." He paid not just for nude photos but also for pictures of the boys' rooms and "thumbs up" portraits.
Cruz served on the Bronx Science Speech & Debate Team for a decade, a position for which he received a number of awards and national acclaim. He is currently being held on $1 million bail.

This case is disturbing for several reasons. While the alleged victims were clearly manipulated and exploited, transcripts uncovered by the FBI depict a man who may be mentally ill. The Cruz case highlights the fact that the system needs better psychological treatment options for offenders, not just stricter laws and more zealous prosecution.
To protect your name, your freedom and your reputation, get in touch with a qualified Florida cybercrime defense attorney at Seltzer Law, P.A. immediately at 1-888-THE-DEFENSE (1-888-843-3333) for a free and confidential consultation.

March 25, 2015

Virginia State Department Official Arrested in Cyber Sting Operation

Daniel Rosen, one of the many office directors in the counterterrorism bureau of the U.S. State Department, was taken into custody after being charged with arranging to have sex from a minor. The senior official has spoken out publicly about the danger of exposing youth to corrupting adult influences, which makes his arrest for the alleged charges all the more concerning.

Rosen stumbled into an online sting operation conducted by Fairfax County's Child Exploitation Unit, which makes up to 100 arrests a year by monitoring various sites and chatrooms frequented by teens. A female officer, posing as a teenage girl, held the exchange with Rosen that led to his alleged solicitation. A spokesperson for the proactive child exploitation unit assured the press that its officers don't "make overtures" but are only there to monitor activity and catch "bad guys."

Rosen appeared in the D.C. Superior Court one day after his arrest, where he waived extradition to Virginia. He was held without bond and later transferred to the Fairfax County jail. Meanwhile, officials obtained a search warrant that allowed them to search Rosen's phone records looking for evidence.

There is no doubt that cybercrimes against minors are a serious problem and that society benefits from the services of law enforcement initiatives like Fairfax County's Child Exploitation Unit. However, we need to be careful that officers are not overstepping their bounds, entrapping merely curious Internet users or building overzealous cases.
What can you do to respond to cybercrime charges? Call Seltzer Law, P.A. at 1-888-THE-DEFENSE (1-888-843-3333) to speak with an experienced Miami cybercrime defense lawyer about your options.

March 16, 2015

California Seeks to Tighten Cyberporn Laws

Sacramento legislators have proposed two new measures, Senate Bill 676 and Assembly Bill 1310, that would make it easier to prosecute people who engage in "revenge porn." The Senate bill would classify any posting of a recognizable revenge porn image as a new crime, while the Assembly bill gives law enforcement agents the authority to obtain a search warrant whenever they seize an alleged revenge porn image.

Revenge porn -- the posting of explicit images online in retaliation for a breakup -- is a real problem that has destroyed thousands of lives. It is especially serious when the victims are minors.

California is already at the forefront in recognizing and prosecuting this offense. In February, 2015, Kevin Bollaert was convicted of multiple charges of extortion and identity theft for disseminating revenge porn, and Hunter Moore agreed to plead guilty of computer hacking and identity theft for operating a revenge porn website.

These new bills, however, may be the wrong direction to take. Assembly Bill 1310 in particular raises uneasy questions about the Fourth Amendment. It is easy to image a scenario in which evidence of other crimes could be legally obtained through the search for revenge porn. In some cases, the defendant could conceivably be innocent of disseminating revenge porn but still be found guilty of crimes discovered during the search.

Cracking down on clear cases of revenge porn is the right thing to do. But broadening the scope of the law to fight these offenses could potentially backfire, leading to the erosion of our Constitutional protections and the destruction of even more innocent lives.
Do you need help responding to federal cybercrime or solicitation charges? Call an experience Miami cybercrimes attorney with Seltzer Law, P.A. today to schedule a free consultation. Call anytime at 1-888-THE-DEFENSE (1-888-843-3333).

March 11, 2015

In 2 International Child Pornography Cases, German Politician Gets Slap on the Wrist, While Killer Gets 10 Years in Prison

Downloading, viewing, and creating child pornography creates scandal throughout the world. Most countries have laws against child pornography, but sentencing structures vary. Two recent cases in the international media involve a Dutch engineer and a German politician.

In Germany, former politician Sebastian Edathy recently confessed to downloading child pornography on his laptop at work and in book and CD form. Investigators found Edathy’s connection to child pornography while investigating a Canadian company accused of distribution. The German politician’s name appeared in their client records.

Edathy owes the court $5,600 for his crime. More importantly, the incident spurred change in German laws regarding child pornography. Now, no one can create child pornography for the purpose of dissemination in that country. The changes also include an extension to the statute of limitations for many sex crimes.

Meanwhile, Dutch engineer Vincent Tabak killed his neighbor, Joanna Yeates, in 2010. His sentence for the sexually motivated crime includes a 20-year prison term. Recently, a new case regarding his possession of 145 pieces of child pornography concluded. England classifies child pornography in 3 different levels, with category A as the most serious. Tabak’s collection had 6 category A pieces. The majority, however, ranked in category C – the least serious.

Tabak faces 10 years for his child pornography crimes, served concurrently with his murder sentence. His name will remain on a sexual offense registry for 10 years, and he can no longer work with children. Prosecutors aggressively pursued the charges to protect the public in the future.

When facing cybercrimes like child pornography, you may feel like you’ve reached the end of the road. The media often tells the stories of successfully prosecuted cases like these two international claims. They rarely champion those who successfully fight wrongful accusations. Cybercrime cases feature complexities that defense attorneys who constantly monitor changing laws understand. Don’t lose hope if you face an investigation into cybercrimes. Defense attorneys investigate the whole story, which often includes exonerating information.

Do you need help responding to federal cybercrime or solicitation charges? Call an experience Miami cybercrimes attorney with Seltzer Law, P.A. today to schedule a free consultation. Call anytime at 1-888-THE-DEFENSE (1-888-843-3333).

March 2, 2015

Crackdowns on Internet Pornography Leave the Wrongly Accused with Worries about the Future

Viewing pornography online does not constitute criminal behavior. However, when activities break terms of service and use, violate another’s privacy, or portray minors in a sexual context, online activity can become a cybercrime.

According to 2015 studies by Covenant Eyes, pornography accounts for 1 in 5 mobile searches. 1 out of every 8 online searches include pornographic material. These statistics suggest that an astonishing number of people who use the internet face the possibility that they could one day stand accused of pornographic cybercrimes.

Recently, Google and Reddit announced changes to the pornography rules on their sites. Google reversed its original decision to ban the sharing of pornographic material on its Blogger site. Instead, it plans to work on enforcing current policies. Reddit, meanwhile, instituted changes that will go into effect on March 10th and focus on preventing the sharing of pornographic material that has not been approved by the subject. Reddit has encountered a widespread problem with “revenge porn.” Revenge porn is pornographic content created for private use, and then disseminated by one party with the intent to cause pain.

The media reports of crackdowns on internet pornography every day, and wrongful accusations are common. Let’s say that you’ve been accused of a cybercrime that includes sexually explicit behavior. You may find yourself staring into the abyss of consequences with no viable recourse.

Wrongful accusations can destroy a person’s credibility and trustworthiness overnight. You may experience feelings of isolation and despair. Occasionally, people face allegations because of accidents. You may not know the difference between legally and illegally distributed content.

To protect yourself, avoid viewing content that portrays children, animal, or violent behavior. Illegal postings may also come through non-traditional forums like Blogger and Reddit. Be careful when using non-company sites for viewing, and be aware that laws vary at the state level.

Contact a cybercrime defense attorney if you stumbled across illegal content and got in trouble for doing so. You don’t have to face an intense investigation alone, and clearing your name can help you get your life back.

What can you do to respond to cybercrime charges? Call Seltzer Law, P.A. at 1-888-THE-DEFENSE (1-888-843-3333) to speak with an experienced Miami cybercrime defense lawyer about your options.

February 26, 2015

Handling Accusations in the Midst of an Increasing Cybercrime Epidemic

Cybercrime presents unique challenges to the legal system, both for alleged offenders and for law enforcement. The laws and regulations regarding certain crimes are often difficult to navigate, especially given the fast pace of web technology changes. Innocent individuals charged with cybercrimes face immediate loss of trust and reputation, making day-to-day life difficult.

No company is immune to the threat of cybercrime. The media commonly reports on large security breaches, but small companies must also implement proactive measures to prevent cybercrime. Many small and medium sized businesses do not implement the type of security measures needed to protect against everyday threats.

As the cost of cybercrime breaches continues to rise, law enforcement officials often complain that “their hands are tied,” and investigators often resort to unfair or even illegal tactics to gain an edge.

Cybercrime accusations can turn your world upside down in an instant. Securing the data for exoneration requires a deep understanding of relevant technology and laws. Facing charges often leaves individuals emotionally, financially, and physically drained.

Individuals on both sides of the cybercrime debate acknowledge that cyberattacks leave a costly and destructive wake. There may not be an easy solution. IT and other technology personnel often face unfair allegations when companies don’t know who else to accuse. Follow these guidelines if you find yourself facing erroneous cybercrime charges:

1. Back up your personal systems and secure any data that can be used to exonerate you.

2. Seek legal advice early on to understand and prepare for the future. An attorney can also help you determine whether a new regulation or law was accidentally breached during the normal course of work.

3. Talk to individuals willing to testify on your behalf. Many cybercrime cases feature circumstantial evidence, and it is helpful to secure witnesses who can defend your character profile.

4. Be careful when speaking to authorities. Only relate the facts during an investigation. Phrases may be taken out of context if your case goes to court.

What can you do to respond to cybercrime charges? Call Seltzer Law, P.A. at 1-888-THE-DEFENSE (1-888-843-3333) to speak with an experienced Miami cybercrime defense lawyer about your options.

February 16, 2015

11 Arrested in 3 Cases of Online Sex Solicitation of Minors

Three separate cases involving the online solicitation of minors are currently in the court system in Amarillo, Texas, and in Louisa County, Virginia. Undercover police operations in both states were involved in discovering the offenses.

A large undercover operation in Texas yielded the arrests of nine individuals who will face 3rd degree felony charges for their alleged actions. The male suspects range in age from 20 to 44. Convicted suspects may face up to 10 years in state prison, and they will be required to register as sex offenders. The case is part of a larger crackdown targeting sex related offenses and human trafficking in Texas.

Officials are also handling two distinct cases in central Virginia as part of undercover operations targeted at sex offenders. Police discovered the illegal solicitations after posing online as a young female. Johnathan Schnyer, a 54-year-old male, was an active member of a community church. He faces one felony charge.

Ray Lester has also been charged with the solicitation of a minor. He is 28 years old, and authorities found him with a semi-automatic weapon when they arrested him. Lester was previously a county dispatcher and a volunteer fireman in his communities. He was arrested while allegedly waiting to meet a 14-year-old for sex.

All 11 individuals face charges because of suspicious online activities. Anyone arrested for sexual solicitation, particularly of a minor, may face stigma and life altering consequences. The accusation makes regaining previous quality of life difficult. Legal counsel specializing in sex related crimes can improve your chances of exoneration and potentially reverse the reputation damaging process.

These cases feature young to middle aged males who allegedly used a passive internet approach to commit crimes against young minors. Undercover police operations often use technologically advanced tools to target these offenders and catch them in illegal acts.

Do you need help responding to federal cybercrime or solicitation charges? Call an experience Miami cybercrimes attorney with Seltzer Law, P.A. today to schedule a free consultation. Call anytime at 1-888-THE-DEFENSE (1-888-843-3333).

February 11, 2015

Solicitation Charges Against High School Teacher Shock Small Connecticut Town

If you or someone you love faces charges of soliciting a minor for sex or engaging in cybercrime activity, this heartbreaking case out of Connecticut may resonate with you.

A former student has filed a lawsuit against a local high school Spanish teacher for sexual harassment in the small town of Simsbury. The student wants $15,000 in damages. The teacher, Mark Cohan, who has been suspended since July 9, 2014, faces several disturbing allegations of misconduct and criminal behavior, according to the local paper, the Hartford Courant.

An ongoing investigation led to Cohan’s arrest on July 30, when authorities “charged [Cohan] with disorderly conduct and second-degree sexual harassment,” according to the Courant. The media has not named the student filing the suit, due to the nature of the allegations. Michael Reilly, an attorney representing the student, told reporters: “Mark Cohan abused his position of trust as a teacher at Simsbury High School to stalk, intimidate, exploit, [and] sexually harass [the youth].”

The lawsuit includes allegations that Cohan used a “friend” status on Facebook to send overtly sexual messages to male students. The student also accuses the teacher of sending him excessive messages, as well as texting, calling, and making him stay after school. Cohan allegedly used several inappropriate tactics with the student, including having him sleep over and drink hard liquor. The student says that, after he slept over at his teacher’s house, he awoke without a clear memory of the night before, with vomit all over him and his zipper down.

Stories like these can be devastating for victims and can spark understandable public ire. But what happens when those wrongly charged with sexual misconduct and cybercrimes find themselves having to defend against compelling (but ultimately wrong or baseless or invented) stories? Those who are inaccurately charged may face stigma and have difficulty securing employment, even if they succeed in getting exonerated.

Florida has particularly tough sex crimes laws; if convicted of similar charges, you will need to register on a national sex offender registration list, and you may face a battery of other punishments, including jail time.

If you face an investigation, or if you’ve been charged with a sex crime you didn’t commit, seek the advice of an attorney as soon as possible.

Do you need help responding to federal cybercrime or solicitation charges? Call an experienced Miami cybercrimes attorney with Seltzer Law, P.A. today to schedule a free consultation. Call anytime at 1-888-THE-DEFENSE (1-888-843-3333).