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Credit card fraud refers to any action involving using another person’s credit card or personal information to make purchases, access funds, or otherwise make a personal financial gain. As with most fraud charges, the severity of the penalties for this crime depends on the type of offense and the amount of money involved. Penalties can range from fines, probation, and jail time to serious federal prosecution and punishment. The increase in online shopping and electronic payment solutions has also caused an increase in fraud cases, along with a higher vigilance among law enforcement to prosecute these cases to the fullest extent of the law. Anyone facing charges of credit card fraud needs an experienced attorney to help them get the best outcome.
Know Your Charges: State vs. Federal Fraud Cases
State fraud laws vary, but most credit card cases will be tried at the federal level simply because there is a federal law in place that makes it illegal to use someone else’s credit card or personal financial information for your own financial gain. These claims are usually investigated by the Secret Service, and can be punishable by up to 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines in addition to other penalties or punishments the court deems necessary or worthwhile.
Federal courts have a much more complex set of guidelines for sentencing these crimes. They also have much more extensive resources than state courts. All this means that if you are being charged with federal fraud related to credit cards, you are likely going to face much more serious consequences than if you were only facing state charges.
Examples of Credit Card Fraud
As in most cases of fraud, the language defining laws can be quite confusing. Even after an explanation or definition, you might not be sure whether or not something constitutes fraud. Here are some common examples that could be charged as federal crimes:
-Stealing credit cards and using them for personal gain
-Applying for cards or additional funds under someone else’s name or social security number
-Hacking or accessing credit card information online and using it to get cash or purchase items
-Phone, email, and online scams that dupe people into providing their credit card information
In some cases, even having the permission of the person whose identity or credit you are using doesn’t matter because you can still be charged with fraud in certain situations. Prosecutors are serious about pursuing these charges and the laws are inflexible, so it is important to hire a reputable credit card fraud attorney to help you fight your case.
Proving Intent in Fraud Charges
Part of the prosecutor’s job in a fraud case is to prove the malicious intent of the defendant. Criminal intent refers to the knowing and willful misuse of financial information or credit cards for your own personal gain. Basically, you knew what you were doing and you did it on purpose. This is the proof that they need to charge the biggest penalties, and they will do everything in their power to prove to a judge that you were fully aware that you were breaking the law.
Accidental misuse of credit card information is a much less serious offense. This is largely due to the fact that there is no proof of intent to deceive or steal someone’s personal information. It is also much more difficult to claim accidental cases as a defendant because you can’t really “accidentally” steal someone’s credit card or card number and use it for your own purchases or expenses. However, a proper fraud attorney can help examine your options and might be able to help you prove an accidental case to get a better outcome.
What to Do If You’ve Been Charged
If you are facing credit card fraud charges, whether they are legitimate or not, you need to get in touch with a lawyer as soon as possible. At the state and federal level alike, prosecutors take this crime very seriously. They are ready to make an example out of as many people as they can, and they have a huge array of resources to help them. Our Philadelphia credit card fraud lawyers will work with you to create a solid defense and get a better outcome, giving you a better position in your fraud case. Call us today to learn more.