Identity theft is devastating crime which involves stealing another individual’s identity for purposes of accessing that person’s resources such as bank accounts, obtaining credit and enjoying other benefits in that person's name. The crime of identity theft is committed when someone uses your personally identifying information, like your name, Social Security number, or credit card number, without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes. In a report published by the Congressional Research Services, statistics show that about 8.1 million Americans were reportedly victims of identity fraud in 2010, and the average identity fraud victim incurred a mean of $631 in costs as a result of the fraud—the highest level since 2007. Identity theft is often committed to facilitate other crimes such as credit card fraud, document fraud, or employment fraud, which in turn can affect not only the nation’s economy, but also its security. Identity theft is devastating and can have lasting consequences on those victimized by the crime and those who victimize. In an effort to deter criminals, Congress enhanced the identity theft laws by passing the Identity Theft Enforcement and Restitution Act of 2008 (Title II of P.L. 110-326). The act stands to offer restitution for identity theft victims for their time spent recovering from the harm caused by the actual or intended identity theft. For those reasons, the crime of identity theft is investigated very thoroughly by crime bureaus and is prosecuted very harshly. If you have been investigated or charged with identity theft, it is imperative that you enlist the services of an experienced Massachusetts identity theft attorney who will be able to inform you of your rights, explore all available defenses, and engage in a rigorous battle for your freedom.
In Massachusetts, the crime of identity theft is governed by MGL c.266, s. 37E. The law provides that anyone with the intent to defraud who poses as another person without their permission and uses that person’s identifying information to obtain or attempt to obtain money, credit, goods, services, anything of value, any identification card, or harass another shall be guilty of the crime of identity fraud and shall be punishable under this section. 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. A conviction shall result in the following punishments:
- A fine not to exceed $5,000, and/or
- Imprisonment in a house of correction for no more than 2. 5 years.
In addition to the outlined penalties associated with identity theft, a person found guilty of violating these provisions shall be ordered to make restitution for financial loss sustained by the victim as a result of the violation. Financial loss may include any costs incurred by such victim is correcting the credit history of such victim or any costs incurred in connection with any civil or administrative proceeding to satisfy any debt or other obligation of such victim, including lost wages and attorney’s fees.
In order for the defendant to be found guilty of identity theft, the Commonwealth must be able to prove four elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.
- The defendant posed as another person;
- The defendant did so without that person’s express permission;
- The defendant used that person’s identifying information to obtain or attempt to obtain money, credit, goods, services, something of value, any identification card or other evidence of someone’s identity, or to harass another person; and
- The defendant did so with the intent to defraud.
If the defendant committed the crime of identity theft for the purposes of harassing another person, the prosecution must be able to make a showing that the defendant willfully and maliciously intended to engage in an act directed at a specific person which would seriously alarm or annoy that person and would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress. For the purposes of this law, any identifying information shall be taken to include anything that would fall within the definition of personal identifying information, such as name, address, telephone number, driver’s license number, social security number, place of employment, employee identification number, mother’s maiden name, demand deposit account number, savings account number, credit card number, and computer password identification.Boston, Massachusetts Identity Theft Crimes Defense Attorney
Courts view theft crimes very seriously in Massachusetts, especially when it involves another individual; therefore it is crucial that you obtain the best legal counsel when facing a charge such as Identity Theft. The Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy has 18 years of successful experience defending clients facing an array of theft related crimes. Attorney Murphy is a highly resourceful and intelligent Boston-area defense attorney who has built a successful and reputable career vigorously defending his clients. For a free and legal analysis, contact the Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy by calling (617) 367-0450 or submitting the online contact form directly to Attorney Murphy.