If you are charged with identity theft, get help from an experienced identity theft lawyer
As identity theft becomes a common crime, prosecutors have become more aggressive in pursuing these charges. Generally, identity theft is using an individual’s or business’ identifying information without permission for fraud or other criminal purposes. This may include (but is not limited to) personal identifiers such as:
- Passport information
- Driver’s license information
- Tax identification numbers
- Social Security number
- Credit card number(s)
- Bank account or check numbers
- Financial data
- Online identities (login, email, Twitter handle, etc.)
Federal and Florida laws have recently increased the penalties for identity theft. In addition to restitution or fines, punishments can be up to 30 years in prison depending on the specifics of the crime. Criminal penalties include incarceration, fines and other damages. In some cases, the penalties for identity theft may be increased if the victim is elderly, disabled or a veteran.
If you are arrested or think you might be under investigation for identity theft, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. Law Office of Nayib Hassan protects the rights of people charged with identity theft.
Types of Indentity Theft Crimes in Florida
When it comes to identity theft crimes in Florida, Nayib Hassan is a trusted attorney dedicated to protecting your rights. Identity theft is a serious offense involving the fraudulent acquisition and misuse of personal information. Below is a list of the different types of identity theft, both federal and at the state level.
Federal Identity Theft Crimes
Identity theft and “new account” fraud, including mortgage, student loan and credit cards, accounted for $3.4 billion in losses in 2018. In that same year, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) alone processed 1.4 million reports of fraud. And while those numbers are staggering, they are on the increase.
Prior to 1998, these types of crimes were called “false personation,” and the laws surrounding them went back as far as the 18th century. With the passage of the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998, these crimes were taken much more seriously and prosecuted more aggressively than ever before. This act makes it a federal crime to “knowingly transfer or use, without lawful authority, a means of identification of another person with the intent to commit, or to aid or abet, any unlawful activity that constitutes a violation of Federal law, or that constitutes a felony under any applicable State or local law.”
Federal identity theft crimes include:
Social Security number fraud
Social Security numbers are about more than retirement or disability benefits, they are required for applying for jobs, obtaining fishing or hunting licenses, opening bank accounts, setting up investments, filing tax returns, getting car loans, mortgages, apartment leases, utilities or credit cards. That is why obtaining Social Security numbers is such a lucrative criminal activity: they can be used to open up fraudulent accounts, or even sold on the digital black market. It’s also why the government will come hard and fast at those suspected of of Social Security number fraud.
Misuse of a U.S. passport
According to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), misuse of a passport is “the use or attempted use of someone else’s passport, or its use in violation of any applicable regulation or law. It also proscribes giving one’s passport to another for the other’s use.” Additional passport crimes include making or using a forged passport and making a false statement when applying for a passport. Penalties for misuse of a passport include up to 10 years imprisonment, as well as steep fines. If the misuse is linked to another crime (for instance, drug trafficking) the penalties are enhanced, meaning that imprisonment and fines are increased.
Federal computer fraud includes a number of “cybercrimes,” “computer crimes” and “internet crimes.” In short, any conduct that victimizes computer system is a crime under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). CFFA offenses include:
- Obtaining national security information
- Accessing a computer and obtaining information
- Trespassing in a government computer
- Accessing a computer to defraud and obtain value
- Intentionally damaging by knowing transmission
- Recklessly damaging by intentional access
- Negligently causing damage and loss by intentional access
- Trafficking in passwords
- Extortion involving computers
Convictions for federal computer fraud crimes can include imprisonment for up to 20 years and may allow the victims to file civil suits for compensatory damages.
Postal, or mail fraud laws, are among the oldest in the U.S., with statutes going back to the 1870s. It is also one of the government’s most far-reaching fraud laws. Mail fraud is widely defined as a scheme to:
- Obtain money or property under false pretenses
- Sell, distribute, exchange, supply, or use counterfeits
How does this constitute postal (mail) fraud? Anything that involves sending something via mail for the purpose of defrauding an individual, organization or company is mail fraud. Moreover, it doesn’t have to be sent via the United States Postal Service (USPS); if it goes across state lines by a private company, it can still be a postal fraud crime, and it can be punished by fines and prison sentences of up to 20 years.
Using illegal means to obtain money, assets, credit, securities owned by or under the custody or control of a financial institution or making an unauthorized transaction from a bank customer’s account are broadly defined types of bank fraud. More specifically, bank fraud includes:
- Check forgery or alteration
- Check theft
- Unlicensed, uninsured “banks” soliciting deposits from investors or the public while falsely purporting to be a fully licensed financial institution
- Check kiting
- Fraudulent loans, such as taking out a loan right before filing for bankruptcy
- False entries
Depending on the charge and the circumstances, bank fraud is punishable by up to anywhere from five to 30 years imprisonment.
A report by the Congressional Research Service states that “immigration fraud is generally grouped into two types: immigration-related ‘document fraud’ and immigration-related ‘benefit fraud’.” Document fraud (also called identity fraud) includes the “manufacturing, counterfeiting, alteration, sale, and/or use of identity documents and other fraudulent documents to circumvent immigration laws or for other criminal activity.”
Benefit fraud is more complicated and can be more sophisticated, but is defined by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as “willful misrepresentation of a material fact on a petition or application to gain an immigration benefit.” This includes marriage fraud, one of the most common types of immigration fraud, in which a person marries a U.S. citizen to obtain a “green card” but never establishes a true marital relationship. Penalties for immigration fraud vary, but may include deportation, prison sentences of anywhere from five to 25 years and significant fines.
Credit card fraud
Credit card fraud is one of the most wide-ranging types of fraud committed in the U.S. The FBI defines it as “the unauthorized use of a credit or debit card, or similar payment tool (ACH, EFT, recurring charge, etc.), to fraudulently obtain money or property.” Credit card fraud accounted for 33 percent of fraud complaints made to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) between 2012 and 1016. Some of the more common credit card scams include:
- Application fraud is generally tied to identity theft, and includes falsely using the name, Social Security number and other documents of another person to illegally obtain a credit card.
- Electronic or manual imprints, also called “skimming,” happens when somebody gets the electronic information off a credit card’s magnetic strip and then uses that information to make fraudulent purchases or a fake card.
- Account takeover happens when someone has all your information, and then requests a change of address. Once the credit card is sent to that “new” address, fraudulent transactions are made.
In order for credit card fraud to be a federal crime, it must have been used in interstate or foreign commerce. Penalties for a federal offense include imprisonment of up to ten years and a fine of up to $10,000.
If you have been charged with a federal identity theft crime, it is imperative that you put an experienced defense attorney on your side
Federal prosecutors bring the full weight of the U.S. government when pursuing a conviction. If you have been charged, you need representation from an experienced, aggressive criminal defense attorney. When you face charges or suspect you are under investigation, call us at (305) 403-7323 or contact us online immediately to discuss your case.
Federal Identity Theft Penalties
Twenty years ago, identity theft was a blip on the radar. Fast-forward to today, and identity theft is a major concern for individuals and businesses alike. Given that more of our personal data is stored on the cloud than ever before, it is no wonder that this type of offense has become easier than ever to pull off.
Realizing the immense threat identity theft poses to citizens, the federal government has enacted laws and penalties to punish identity thieves and deter others from committing the crime.
If you believe you are the subject of a federal identity theft investigation, consult with an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer immediately.
According to 18 U.S.C. § 1028(a)(7), you are guilty of identity theft if you, “knowingly transfer[ring] or us[ing], without lawful authority, a means of identification of another person with the intent to commit, or to aid or abet, any unlawful activity that constitutes a violation of Federal law, or that constitutes a felony under any applicable State or local law.”
Depending on the specific details of your case, you may be charged with either a misdemeanor or felony offense. Misdemeanors are less serious crimes that are typically punishable by up to one year in the county jail. Felonies, on the other hand, are more serious offenses punishable by more than a year in a state prison.
Jails are temporary holding facilities with limited capacity. Prisons are large scale incarnation facilities designed to house and process a large number of inmates. If you are charged with the felony offense of identity theft, you face up to 15 years in prison.
In addition to prison time, you may have to pay fines in excess of $5,000. Keep in mind, this fine is on top of the various court and legal fees that are required.
If you used any assets or property to commit the offense, those items may be subject to asset forfeiture.
If your actions have led to a victim or victims suffering financial harm, the court may order you to pay restitution.
It is important to remember that restitution is a civil penalty and is in addition to any criminal charges you face.
Experienced Identity theft defense lawyer in Florida
The Law Office of Nayib Hassan, P.A., represents clients accused of identity theft, fraud, and other white-collar crimes. To discuss your federal defense case with a skilled attorney, call (305) 403-7323 or contact us online.
Identity theft charges require a vigorous defense
Identity theft charges can be filed against large criminal organizations who steal thousands of credit cards or individuals who forge a single check. You might be charged as part of a criminal enterprise regardless of how small or tangential your contribution might be. You might be charged with conspiracy if you were not necessarily a participant in the fraud.
For example, if you receive merchandise from someone who bought it with a stolen credit card, a zealous prosecutor might charge you as a conspirator. So, it’s very important to contact an identity theft attorney who can provide a strong defense for you and distinguish your actions from those of other conspirators.
Nayib Hassan understands the complexities of identity theft cases. We help protect the rights of people charged with identity theft by developing the best defense for your particular circumstances.
Contact the Florida for the aggressive defense you need.
Call (305) 403-7323 or contact us online to speak with us at the Law Office of Nayib Hassan today.