Computer fraud is a relatively new type of fraud. The law tends to lag behind technological developments, so the law punishing use of computer technology to commit fraud is in a very simple stage right now. Virginia adopted what is called the Virginia Computer Crimes Act to punish various criminal abuse of computer technology. Simply, the fraud law reads: Any person who uses a computer or computer network, without authority and:
1. Obtains property or services by false pretenses;
2. Embezzles or commits larceny; or
3. Converts the property of another;
is guilty of the crime of computer fraud.

If the value of the property or services obtained is $200 or more, the crime of computer fraud shall be punishable as a Class 5 felony. Where the value of the property or services obtained is less than $200, the crime of computer fraud shall be punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor. What’s important to notice here is that non-computer grand larceny of items worth over $200.00 is punishable by a Class 6 felony. Using a computer to commit grand larceny enhances punishment for that larceny.


The Virginia Computer Crimes Acts has a list of computer property that is capable of embezzlement. The following property is listed under Virginia VA Code Section 18.2-152.8:
1. Computers and computer networks;
2. Financial instruments, computer data, computer programs, computer software and all other personal property regardless of whether they are: (a) Tangible or intangible; (b) In a format readable by humans or by a computer; (c) In transit between computers or within a computer network or between any devices which comprise a computer; or (d) Located on any paper or in any device on which it is stored by a computer or by a human; and
3. Computer services.

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This article is written by Virginia criminal defense attorney Marina Medvin, an award-winning trial lawyer serving Alexandria, Fairfax, and Arlington, VA. Ms. Medvin has a Bachelor of Science degree in Information Sciences and Technology, from Penn State University, where she graduated Cum Laude, and she has significant experience with Virginia and Federal computer crimes, including defending Anonymous and WikiLeaks hacker activists. Please call if you are charged with a Northern Virginia computer crime.

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