In Florida, using a credit card in an illegal way is called Fraudulent Fraudulent Use of Credit Cards and is prosecuted aggressively. Alternatively, certain types of Fraudulent Use of Credit Cards may be prosecuted at a federal level leading to steeper fines, longer prison sentences, and other severe life-altering consequences. There are many different ways that credit card fraud may be committed. Understanding the severity of credit card fraud can help you take the right steps toward protecting your civil liberties and legal rights. The first step you should take if you believe that you may be implicated in a credit card fraud crime is to retain an experienced Tampa credit card fraud lawyer immediately after you’re charged – or even if you suspect you’re about to be charged.

Joffe Law, P.A., helps individuals facing a wide range of criminal charges, including allegations of fraudulent Use of credit cards. Our legal team can help you form a mitigation or defense strategy and will fight to protect your rights in federal courtrooms. With federal fraud defense attorneys who have decades of experience defending Tampa and Hillsborough County, our Firm can help you get the best possible outcome for your unique case. If you have been charged with credit card fraud or believe allegations of this nature may be brought against you, knowing the following could prove helpful.

How is fraudulent use defined?

In the state of Florida, Fraudulent Use of Credit Cards falls under Florida Statute 817.61. It is defined as a crime in which an individual either uses a credit card with the intent to defraud a vendor or merchant, uses a credit card that was obtained unlawfully, or uses a credit card that has been forged intentionally or is known to be forged by a third-party. The same goes for debit cards and check cards. Any unlawfully obtained card that gives unauthorized access to bank funds that have either been borrowed or already are available can put the user in danger of being charged with credit card fraud or Fraudulent Use of Credit Cards.

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Is credit card fraud a federal offense?

Certain types of credit card fraud may be prosecuted at a federal level. Credit card fraud may become a federal offense when a federal agency such as the FBI gets involved. If you suspect that the FBI may be tracking a fraudulent transaction that you have made that could be considered credit card fraud, contact a legal professional with federal criminal defense experience immediately. For instance, any transaction that has been made with a forged, fraudulent, or illegally obtained credit card, that has drawn the notice of federal officials, may later be prosecuted at a federal level. This included large transactions, certain international transactions, and other suspicious activity that may catch the attention of the FBI. Certain internet searches and online purchases have even been known to draw the attention of federal agencies. Generally, the federal government becomes involved in cases of credit card fraud when large-scale fraudulent schemes are in progress or have previously occurred. When a credit card fraud crime is prosecuted at a federal level, the penalties that accompany convictions are usually much more severe.

What are the most common types of credit card fraud?

There are many different types of credit card fraud. In many cases, credit card fraud will be accompanied by many other charges of a similar nature. If prosecuted federally, some cases will have multiple counts for the same charge, leading to harsher penalties. Below, we will go over a few types of credit card fraud that are commonly prosecuted in the state of Florida or by federal agencies.

  • Cyber card theft: Cyber card theft involves fraudulent activity by use of a credit card online. Schemes of this kind in many cases will involve activity like phishing scams and hacking. This usually means using illegally obtained credit card information for financial gain.
  • Unlawful retail use: This simply means using a credit card or debit card without the permission of the cardholder. This crime may involve deceptively stating that you have the permission of the cardholder or stealing the card outright and then using it at a retail or banking location.
  • ATM Fraud: This involves the theft of funds by using an ATM or credit card number. Skimming is one of the most common credit card fraud schemes committed in Florida. This crime has been prosecuted aggressively in recent years.
  • International retail fraud: This is one of the most likely credit card schemes to trigger a federal investigation. International retail fraud involves a process used to obtain credit card data and either misuse or sell it internationally in some way.

What are the penalties for credit card fraud?

The penalties for fraudulently using a credit card will vary depending on the unique circumstances surrounding a criminal case and investigation. Only an experienced attorney will be able to tell you accurately what penalties you may be facing if convicted of Fraudulent Use of Credit Cards in Florida. Penalties may range from a slap on the wrist to decades in prison. That’s one of the reasons it is so important to have a seasoned white collar criminal defense lawyer in your corner.

The penalties individuals convicted of Fraudulent Use of Credit Cards in Florida will depend on a few factors:

  • the overall value of any goods obtained within a six-month span
  • the amount the credit card was used within a six-month span

In Florida, Fraudulent Use of Credit Cards may be a felony or misdemeanor offense. If prosecuted as a federal offense, the penalties may be significantly more severe.

Misdemeanors

For Fraudulent Use of Credit Cards in Florida to be a misdemeanor, the card must have been used fewer than two times and the items obtained must be of a value less than $100. This crime is punishable by one year in jail, one year of probation, and a $1,000 fine.

Felonies

Most Fraudulent Use of Credit Card cases in Florida will end up with felony penalties. This crime is considered to be a Third Degree Felony in the state. It is punishable by up to five years in prison, five years on probation, and a $5,000 fine.

Federal penalties

If prosecuted at a federal level, the penalties for credit card fraud are significantly worse. Penalties may include prison sentences of up to 30 years and fines of $50,000 or more.

Dedicated defense attorneys are standing by

At Joffe Law, P.A., our lawyers have decades of experience fighting for the rights of clients facing federal criminal charges in Tampa. We can help your case get the best possible outcome in Hillsborough County. The sooner you retain a Tampa qualified credit card fraud attorney, the more likely you are to minimize or even to eliminate certain charges.