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Three years ago, a study by Barclays Bank estimated that the United States accounts for 47% of global credit card fraud.  Credit card fraud works something like this:  account numbers (or access devices) are obtained through sophisticated data breaches, or less sophisticated "skimmer" devices attached to gas pumps or ATMs.  Card numbers are then downloaded and re-encoded onto "new" plastic card's magnetic stripes.  The fraudster loads-up on goods and services, racking up thousands of dollars in charges before the victim is aware his or her account has been compromised.

Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act (18 U.S.C. § 1028)

The Federal Government prosecutes cases of identity theft by using several Federal laws.  In 1988, Congress passed the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act (18 U.S.C. § 1028).

This new law created a new Federal offense of identity theft.  The law specifically prohibits the knowing transfer or use, without lawful authority, identifying information of another person with the intent to commit, or to aid another, any unlawful activity that is a violation of Federal law, or a felony pursuant to any State law.


Other Applicable Statutes

Other Federal statutes generally associated with identity theft crimes are

Credit card fraud (18 U.S.C. § 1029);

Computer fraud (18 U.S.C. § 1030);

Mail fraud (18 U.S.C. § 1341);

Wire fraud (18 U.S.C. § 1343);

Financial Institution fraud (18 U.S.C. § 1344).


Can it get any worse?


Yes, meet the § 1028A enhancement.

In addition the above, the Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act (18 U.S.C. § 1028A), set increased penalties for the crime of aggravated identity theft. The additional penalties apply to cases where identity theft has been used in the course of more serious crimes, (or "underlying offenses"),

such as healthcare fraud, terrorist acts, mail fraud, wire fraud, and firearm violations.   


Thus, a defendant can be facing an additional 2 years of incarceration when the Government alleges that the defendant used another’s identifying information in the course of committing

a separate Federal criminal offense.

How to fight back


Thankfully, there are defenses to credit card fraud charges.  Consider, for instance, lack of knowledge.  The Government has to prove that the accused knowingly used a fraudulent credit card.  Which is why it's critically important to hire an experienced Federal criminal defense attorney to develop an effective defense strategy and to fight the Government on key issues such as knowledge, intent and intended (versus actual) loss.


There is hope

If you or a loved one is arrested and charged with a Federal credit card fraud or identity theft crime, please call our 24-hour telephone number 305-461-1066 to set up an appointment and free consultation so we can assess your particular case and provide you with the best legal advice on how to proceed.


Stop worrying.  I can help.  I want to hear your side of the story.

Foto de mano con tarjeta para el Abogado de Derecho Penal Ricardo P. Hermida en Miami, Coral Gables, condado de Miami-Dade, Florida.
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