As credit card transactions have become the norm all over the U.S. and in most industrialized countries, credit card fraud has also become much more prevalent, with credit card issuers, users and merchants collectively losing billions each year. Unlike stealing cash, stealing access to other people’s cards may feel like an impersonal, faceless crime as it does not usually involve violence or even a face to face encounter with the target. Nevertheless, the federal government punishes credit card offenses severely. Therefore, what may seem like an easy, nearly harmless ploy to get money can land a person in prison for years. Those who are under investigation in or near Broward County should immediately seek the assistance of a Fort Lauderdale credit card fraud lawyer.
Credit application and assumed identity fraud
Application fraud takes place when a person provides false information when applying for credit. This is often the second step in many identity theft schemes in which defendants have stolen sensitive data such as social security numbers and dates of birth in the interest of using the information to make fraudulent purchases. Similarly, in cases of assumed identity fraud, a person may use a temporary address and false name to apply for a credit card. However, identity theft is not a necessity for a person’s actions to constitute credit application fraud. Some people may use a friend or relative’s information to secure a credit card; this is also considered fraud unless the friend or relative is willing cosigner and they are properly named as such on the application.
Do not say anything that might incriminate you. Speak with an attorney first.
Card not present
In many credit card fraud cases, an individual makes unauthorized purchases by using information from another person’s card. Card not present (CNP) fraud occurs when Person A gains access to Person B’s credit card number and expiration date and uses the information to make purchases online, through the mail, or over the phone. In response to an increased awareness of CNP fraud, merchants began requiring the card’s verification code, which has served as a slight deterrent. CNP fraud is sometimes committed when there is a relatively close relation to the cardholder and the unauthorized user did not think using the information would constitute a major federal crime. Using any aspect of someone else’s credit card without permission is a crime in Fort Lauderdale and throughout Florida. Therefore, it is always better to obtain permission or to simply ask the cardholder to make the purchase in the interest of avoiding potentially costly confusion.
Skimming and counterfeit cards
Skimming refers to the process of extracting card data from the card’s magnetic strip by digitally or manually creating an imprint. Card data is extracted when either the cardholder or another person swipes the card through a small device known as a skimmer. Skimmers are sometimes illegally fitted onto standard ATMs; therefore, a person might completely unknowingly swipe his or her card through a skimmer and become a victim of credit card fraud. In other cases, related fraud rings might include people who work as restaurant servers, cashiers, or other professions that allow regular, trusted access to customers’ cards. The information is then used to create an entirely new counterfeit card with the same information.
When does credit card fraud become federal crime?
Individuals who are accused of credit card fraud may be charged in federal or state court. A person who steals his or her family member’s card information and makes a relatively small purchase like clothing or a smartphone would likely face charges in state court. Organized groups of people who execute fraud amounting to $150,000 or more are much more likely to be investigated by the FBI or Federal Trade Commission and be charged in federal court. If convicted of credit card fraud under federal law, an individual may be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison in very extreme cases. To lessen the chances for imprisonment or large fines, anyone who believes he or she may be under investigation should contact an experienced credit card fraud defense attorney in Fort Lauderdale or Broward County immediately after being charged.
What are my options credit card fraud defense in Fort Lauderdale?
People are often unaware of how critical the investigation stage of the criminal justice process can be. During this time, police are working to gather information to help them zero in on a suspect and eventually bring charges against someone. Fort Lauderdale law enforcement agencies often request voluntary interviews with people who later find themselves facing formal federal fraud charges. Therefore, what a person says during a seemingly harmless interview can later cause trouble if he or she is eventually charged of a crime.
Having credit card fraud defense lawyers present when speaking to investigators can help the individual aid the natural compulsion to “over share” in the interests of appearing cooperative to law enforcement. In some cases, a person may be charged with fraud in situations in which the person legitimately believed he or she had permission to use the card. In other situations, an individual may have participated in an identity theft ring or credit card fraud operation as a result of having been coerced by others who were also involved. A Fort Lauderdale credit card fraud attorney at Joffe Law, P.A. can provide a free case evaluation and determine the best defense for these serious federal charges.