Credit Card Fraud
Credit card fraud is the simplest and most common form of identity theft. In today's technological world, credit card fraud has become increasingly prevalent due to its simplicity to commit. The Federal Trade Commission reported that in 2009 seventeen percent of all reported identity theft were instances of credit card fraud. The crime may be accomplished through someone physically obtaining a credit card, or the compromise of data associated with the account, including the card account number or other information that would be available to a merchant during a legitimate transaction. If the right identification information is obtained, credit card fraud may occur by a person applying for a credit card in your name and making purchases using the card. In cases such as this, a person may not even be aware that they are the victim of credit card fraud until months later after the account becomes past due and the credit card company contacts you seeking payment. An increasingly more common theft offense is ATM skimming in which sophisticated equipment is used to capture bank account and pin information when bank ATMs are accessed. The information is then transferred onto forged bank debit cards and funds are stolen from accounts. Credit card fraud and ATM skimming are investigated very thoroughly by both State and Federal agencies, depending on the size and scope of the crime. Mostly, state and local authorities handle the investigation, but the U.S. Secret Service and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) oversee and provide legal support for monetary and personal fraud investigations. Generally, the FTC usually only investigates cases involving $2,000 or more. If you or someone you know are being charged for credit card fraud, you should contact a Boston criminal defense lawyer before proceeding in any way. Only an attorney with specialized knowledge in the field of credit card fraud and identity theft will be able to properly assist you when facing charges of this nature.
The crime of credit card fraud falls under the law governing identity theft in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. MGL c.266, s. 37E states a person who possesses the intent to defraud who is also, without the other person's permission, posing as another person by using their identifying information to attempt to get money, goods, services, anything of value, an identification card, or harass another will be guilty of identity fraud.
As of April, 2018, subsection "c ½" has been added to the statute Identity Fraud, G.L. c. 266, § 37E, which states that anyone who "possesses a tool, instrument, or other article adapted, designed or commonly used for accessing a person's financial services" or identifying information "under circumstances evidencing an intent to use or knowledge that some person intends to use the same to commit larceny" (Act § 145) will have committed a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to 2.5 years in prison and or up to a $5,000 fine.
Along with the penalties outlined above, anyone who is guilty of violating these provisions will be ordered to make restitution for financial loss that the victim faced resulting from the violation. Included in financial loss might be any costs incurred by the victim such as attorney's fees or lost wages.
For the misuse of credit cards, the threshold between a misdemeanor and felony has been increased from $250 to $1,200. Also, anyone with the intent to defraud who obtains personal identifying information about a person without that person's permission in order to assist another to pose as that person in order to obtain credit, goods, money, services, anything of value, any identification card, or to harass another person shall be punishable under this section. Punishments that coincide with convictions for misuse or fraudulent use of credit cards:
- Misuse of Credit Cards (G.L. c. 266, § 37B, amended by Act §§ 141-142) is a crime punishable by a fine of a maximum of $2,500
- Fraudulent Use of Credit Cards (G.L. c. 266, § 37C, amended by Act §§ 141-142) is a crime punishable by a fine of a maximum of $10,000
If you have been accused of credit card fraud, you're likely very nervous and worried about your future. You might not understand the complex laws surrounding your case. When you retain the services of Attorney Patrick J. Murphy, you can rest assured that your rights, freedom and future are being protected with the utmost care. The Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy has been proudly serving clients throughout Massachusetts for decades, and has built a successful and well-respected firm ensuring that his clients' needs are put first. If you have been charged with an credit card fraud in Massachusetts, you need an experienced Boston-area criminal defense attorney to review your case. If there are any defenses that may be exercised, they should be investigated before any plea deal is negotiated. For a confidential consultation please call our Boston fraud defense firm at (617) 367-0450 or submit the online contact form directly to our office.