Credit Card Fraud

Credit card fraud in Miami typically involves clients who unlawfully use a credit card. There are many ways for these types of crimes to be committed. The penalties can be significant. One count, considered a third-degree felony, can subject the offender to up to five years in prison. Often, law enforcement and prosecutors will charge a defendant with separate felonies for each time fraud was committed. It's not uncommon then to see a defendant charged with numerous felony counts, resulting in significantly high bonds. Additionally, if the conduct is deemed a routine course of action, prosecutors and law enforcement will charge defendants with Organized Schemes to Defraud. The penalty for that offense is up to thirty years in prison. Credit card fraud can take various forms, including:

  • Internet credit card fraud often involves hackers who can track a customer's purchase in a vendor's system and subsequently take the data. The stolen credit card information is then used by the hacker(s) to make purchases.
  • The mechanism of skimming involves creating copies of a customer credit card payment. That stolen data is then sold on the black market or the dark web.
  • Mail non-receipt fraud happens when the approved customer does not obtain a new or replacement card because the envelope was intercepted by another person.
  • Charge-back fraud may happen when a person utilizes a credit card to make a purchase or to pay for items but then reports the purchase as being illegitimate.

You can be accused of theft if you use a credit card without being authorized. However, those allegations may be baseless. For instance, if you go to the grocery store and use your spouse's card to pay for food, the cashier might note the different names and signatures and call someone to say that you are behaving fraudulently. A quick call to check that you have permission to use the card is typically enough to clarify the situation. If for whatever reason, the person approving the use of the card claims he or she has not done so, then you may be placed under arrest. In a case involving credit or debit card fraud, there are a variety of legal principles that would allow you to sue for defenses in your favor. This will usually include statements that contradict the facts provided by the prosecutor in the case against you, such as:

  • You were not deliberately using the credit card to defraud. You assumed, for example, you were using the card for a legitimate purpose.
  • You thought you were using a card that the bank had legally purchased or given you, on the premise that you were approved to do so.
  • You bought or otherwise accessed products or services using a card that you thought was properly approved.

Depending on the specifics of the case and the value of the merchandise/goods or services involved, credit card fraud may be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or felony. Although pretrial and trial defenses are commonly used irrespective of the type of criminal case, including inadequate proof, common defense tactics that could prove successful against charges of fraudulent credit card usage include:

  • Intent to defraud - The prosecution must show that the defendant tried to defraud the merchant at the time of the transaction. If the defendant makes it clear that they are not the cardholder, and that they plan to refund the cardholder, there is a lack of motive for a conviction.
  • Double jeopardy - Theft and credit card crimes in Florida are usually considered variable levels of the same crime, thus, if the offender is charged with multiple offenses, they can be convicted only one time.

The general information provided above about credit card fraud in Fort Lauderdale is meant for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for speaking directly with an attorney about the facts and circumstances of your case. Please call 954-500-0003 in Broward or 305-674-0003 in Miami to schedule a consultation with the Law Offices of Mark Eiglarsh.

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