Credit Card Fraud
Part II of Chapter 817 in the Florida Statutes is known as the 1967 “State Credit Card Crime Act.” Florida Statutes §§ 817.57-817.685 establishes several criminal offenses relating to the illegal use of credit cards.
Fraudulent activity relating to credit cards is an exceptionally common crime in the Sunshine State, and there are often multiple parties that want to see alleged offenders severely punished for the financial harm they allegedly caused. However, these charges can often be the result of honest misunderstandings that were not evident during law enforcement investigations.
St. Petersburg Credit Card Fraud Lawyer
Are you under investigation or have you already been arrested for some kind of fraud relating to credit cards? It is in your best interest to immediately seek legal representation before making any sort of statement to police.
The Pinellas County credit card fraud attorneys at Morris Law Firm, P.A. represent clients throughout the greater St. Petersburg area, including Clearwater, Tampa, and several surrounding communities. You can have our firm review your case by calling (727) 388-4736 today to schedule a free, confidential consultation.
Florida Credit Card Fraud Information Center
- What are the state laws regarding this crime?
- How might a person be punished under federal law?
- Are there any defenses against these allegations?
Florida Statute § 817.61 specifically addresses the fraudulent use of credit cards. Under this statute, it is against the law for any person to use a credit card obtained through fraudulent means or without the actual owner’s consent to obtain money, goods, services, or anything else of value.
This criminal offense is graded as follows:
- It is a first-degree misdemeanor if, in any six-month period, the alleged offender illegally uses a credit card two or fewer times or obtains money, goods, services, or anything else of value which is less than $100; or
- It is a third-degree felony if, in any six-month period, the alleged offender illegally uses a credit card more than two times or obtains money, goods, services, or anything else of value which is $100 or more.
Additionally, Florida Statute § 817.60 lists eight other crimes involving fraudulent use of credit cards. These offenses include:
- Theft by Taking or Retaining Possession of Card Taken — First-degree misdemeanor;
- Theft of Credit Card Lost, Mislaid, or Delivered By Mistake — First-degree misdemeanor;
- Purchase or Sale of Credit Card of Another —First-degree misdemeanor;
- Obtaining Control of Credit Card as Security for Debt — First-degree misdemeanor;
- Dealing in Credit Cards of Another — Third-degree felony;
- Forgery of Credit Card — Third-degree felony;
- Signing Credit Card of Another — First-degree misdemeanor; and
- Unlawful Possession of a Stolen Credit or Debit Card — Third-degree felony.
In Florida, a first-degree misdemeanor is punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Third-degree felony offenses are punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
Fraudulent use of credit cards that involves particularly large sums of money or other additional forms of interstate criminal activity can result in federal charges. If a person is convicted of violating federal law, he or she faces penalties that are even more severe than the punishments allowed under Florida state law.
Under United States Sentencing Guidelines, the amount of any fine will depend on what offense level the alleged crime is classified as. The most serious offenses can result in fines of as much as $250,000.
Additionally, 18 U.S. Code § 1029 establishes a number of offenses relating to fraud and related activity in connection with access devices. An access device is defined as “any card, plate, code, account number, electronic serial number, mobile identification number, personal identification number, or other telecommunications service, equipment, or instrument identifier, or other means of account access that can be used, alone or in conjunction with another access device, to obtain money, goods, services, or any other thing of value, or that can be used to initiate a transfer of funds (other than a transfer originated solely by paper instrument).”
Under this federal law, the following criminal offenses are punishable by up to 10 years in prison:
- Knowingly and with intent to defraud producing, using, or trafficking in one or more counterfeit access devices;
- Knowingly and with intent to defraud trafficking in or using one or more unauthorized access devices during any one-year period, and by such conduct obtaining anything of value aggregating $1,000 or more during that period;
- Knowingly and with intent to defraud possessing 15 or more devices which are counterfeit or unauthorized access devices;
- Without the authorization of the issuer of the access device, knowingly and with intent to defraud soliciting a person for the purpose of offering an access device or selling information regarding or an application to obtain an access device;
- Knowingly and with intent to defraud using, producing, trafficking in, having control or custody of, or possessing a telecommunications instrument that has been modified or altered to obtain unauthorized use of telecommunications services; or
- Without the authorization of the credit card system member or its agent, knowingly and with intent to defraud causing or arranging for another person to present to the member or its agent, for payment, one or more evidence or records of transactions made by an access device.
The following offenses are punishable by up to 15 years in prison:
- Knowingly, and with intent to defraud, producing, trafficking in, having control or custody of, or possessing device-making equipment;
- Knowingly and with intent to defraud effecting transactions, with one or more access devices issued to another person or persons, receiving payment or any other thing of value during any one-year period the aggregate value of which is equal to or greater than $1,000;
- Knowingly and with intent to defraud using, producing, trafficking in, having control or custody of, or possessing a scanning receiver; or
- Knowingly using, producing, trafficking in, having control or custody of, or possessing hardware or software, knowing it has been configured to insert or modify telecommunication identifying information associated with or contained in a telecommunications instrument so that such instrument may be used to obtain telecommunications service without authorization.
It is important to note that if a person commits any of these criminal offenses after previously being convicted of any one of them, then that offense becomes punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Additionally, that alleged offender can also be subject to forfeiture of any personal property used or intended to be used to commit the offense.
As is the case with any type of fraud crime, these credit card offenses will require prosecutors to prove that alleged offenders knowingly and intentionally attempted to defraud another party. Satisfying this burden will often mean that there needs to be very incriminating evidence that is not just hearsay or speculation.
Melinda Morris has several years of experience handling these types of cases as both a defense lawyer and a felony prosecutor. Every case is unique, but some of the most common defenses that our attorney can use in these types of cases include, but are not limited to:
- Alleged offender acted with consent of authorized cardholder
- Illegal search and seizure or other police misconduct
- Lack of evidence
- Misidentification of actual offender
- No intent to defraud
Find a Credit Card Fraud Lawyer in St. Petersburg
If you are under investigation or have already been arrested for alleged fraudulent activity involving credit cards, do not delay in seeking legal counsel. Morris Law Firm, P.A. knows how to protect the rights of ordinary people facing these types of allegations, and we will work tirelessly to get criminal charges significantly reduced or completely dismissed.
The Morris Law Firm, P.A. firm represents clients all over Hillsborough County, Pasco County, Sarasota County, Manatee County, and the Pinellas peninsula. Call (727) 388-4736 right now to set up a free consultation that will let our Pinellas County credit card fraud attorneys review your case.