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What is credit card fraud?

Credit card fraud is a term used to refer to a broad range of crimes involving theft or fraud committed while using a credit card. Generally, perpetrators use a victim’s credit card information to acquire items without paying for them or to obtain funds unlawfully from a bank account. The crime itself can begin with the actual theft of a card or with the compromise of data associated with an account, such as the account number. The compromise can occur in many ways and often without the legitimate cardholder, the merchant, or the issuer having any idea it happened until after the account has been compromised.

Essentially, credit card fraud is committed when a person uses a card or other identifying information that was unlawfully obtained or known to be forged, with the intent to defraud and obtain money, goods, or anything of value in transactions.

What could a conviction cost you?

Congress passed the Credit Card Fraud Act in 1984 to combat significant increases in criminal activity involving credit cards. The penalties associated with credit card fraud can vary. However, criminal fraud offenses are felonies and are punishable by jail, fines, probation, or all of the above. Of course, the dollar amount that you are fined and the amount of prison time you are sentenced to can vary drastically on a case by case basis. It is for these reasons that it is essential to obtain a qualified criminal defense attorney familiar with federal crimes to protect your rights and your reputation.

Additionally, credit card fraud is one component of the bigger crime of aggravated identity theft. Identity theft occurs when someone knowingly uses a person’s identifying or financial information (e.g. social security number) for financial gain. This is a very serious offense and is punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of two years federal imprisonment.

What defenses are available?

If you are charged with credit card fraud, there are specific defenses that your attorney may be able to raise. The greater the amount of fraud, the more time a person is facing in jail.  Your attorney may be able to lower the potential sentence after a thorough investigation by showing the loss amount, sought by the government, is incorrect.  

Additionally, credit card fraud and aggravated identity theft requires proof that the defendant knowingly acted to defraud at the time of the transaction. This means that if you did not know that the card was fraudulent or, in the case of identity theft, if you did not know that the means of identification at issue belonged to an actual person, then you lack a necessary component for conviction of such a charge.

Sabrina Puglisi not only has experience with credit card fraud charges, but has also succeeded in achieving positive outcomes for her clients charged with these types of crimes. To contact our Miami office, please call (305) 403-8063 or visit us at http://www.puglisilaw.com.