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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Hacker vs. Phisher: who does the law side with?

Question

This morning I received an email claiming to be from PayPal saying that I needed to update my information. I followed the link and it was clearly a scam. The URL was not correct and the site "logged you in" regardless of what email and password you typed. Would it be illegal to write a program that repeatedly enters fake information to this site? I believe that it would make it harder for them to steal people's data by filling their database with bad info. I would not need to access the site in an unauthorized manner but just fill the web form out repeatedly. Would this be illegal? (also the site is hosted from France)"
Cost: Free
United States  |  Missouri  |  65804  |  Criminal Law
3/09/16, 8:17 am

Answer

I hate to answer a question without knowing the answer 100%, but you appear to be in murky territory. Their are hundreds of laws related to this and in reading the statutes related to this a creative prosecutor could find a way to prosecute you.
The first thing I recommend is you contact the authorities(Missouri Attorney General, FTC, etc.) and whoever you can to show that this is a scam, particularly Paypal.
Now to answer the legal question. The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act seems to cover this kind of behavior and harassment. So you are writing a program to generally hack them and provide them false information or to attack their forms and crash their system. Your intent here is to cause them harm and retaliate. This is a form of harassment using a computer. I would recommend against doing this. Here is a website with multiple links to the laws I have reviewed to answer your question.
http://www.hackerlaw.org/?page_id=55
and the DOJ manual on computer crimes https://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/criminal-ccips/legacy/2015/01/14/ccmanual.pdf
Richard Simons
Speedingticketkc.com
5525 Rockhill Rd.
Kansas CIty, MO 64110


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