What is identity theft?
In 2017, there were more than 30,000 cases of identity theft in Florida. It is estimated that for every 10,000 people, 150 of them will fall victim of identity theft within the year. Identity theft doesn’t only mean pretending to be someone but could also mean forging documents to receive their benefits. Examples of identity theft may include mail theft, counterfeiting, check forgery, false use of credit cards and forgery. The most common form of identity theft in Florida is credit card fraud and the second most common is bank fraud.
According to Florida Statute 817.568 “Any person who willfully and without authorization fraudulently uses, or possesses with intent to fraudulently use, personal identification information concerning another person without first obtaining that person’s consent, commits the offense of fraudulent use of personal identification information, which is a felony of the third degree.”
How can a lawyer help you?
Your lawyer may try to cause doubt that you knew you were committing fraud at the time the crimes were committed. They could also try to prove that it was not you were forging signatures or trying to counterfeit the items. They want to cause doubt to make the jurors believe there is a possibility that there was no attempt of purposeful fraud. An experienced criminal defense lawyer would be beneficial for an identity theft charge.
To find the closest credit fraud lawyer you can use google or yelp to search “Identity theft defense lawyer near me.” Call their office and ask if they do free consultations and schedule one. When you meet with the lawyers you should see if they offer what you’re looking for and if they would be the best fit for you. You want to make sure that the lawyer you choose in the end is one who has handled cases similar to yours and can help you receive the result you want in the end.
What are some swindlers and identity theft defense in Florida?
A defense that could be used is that you were under the impression that it was okay to use the cards of the information. Sometimes our family members give us their info to help them out with things so you could have been under the impression they had given consent. Another defense could be that you didn’t realize you were stealing funds. For example, when you travel for your company and have an app that requires payment, like the wallet or a rideshare app, you might have your companies card already on it. Then one day you go out and use the apps to make purchases or take an uber to downtown for a concert and spent a lot of money. You didn’t realize that the apps were set to charge you company card and made these purchases. This would be an example of unknowingly committing identity theft.
What are 5 memorable identity theft cases?
- Lara Love and David Jackson
A Californian couple who began hacking into their neighbor’s wireless routers. They were able to get access to all of their neighbor’s personal data. In the end they had over thirty victims that were affected by this.
- Richard Lester Phillips
A girl named Brittany Ossenfort had gotten a new roommate who went by the name of Michelle who had a similar haircut to her. One day Brittany got a phone call from the police asking for her to pick up her friend “Brittany Ossenfort” from jail. When she got to the jail she found out Michelle had been arrested for alleged prostitution. Along with discovering her roommate had pretended to be her, she also discovered that her roommate was a male name Richard Lester Phillips.
- Marcelo Nascimento da Rocha
Marcelo was a drug smuggler who impersonated Henrique Constantino, the brother of the CEO of the airline Gol Airlines. He used the fake identity to his advantage and tried to live the luxury life. He was caught when he had sex with a woman who was friends with the real Henrique Constantino.
- Abraham Abdallah
Abraham hacked into the bank accounts of 200 people on the Forbes richest people’s list. The victims consisted of celebrities such as Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey. He kept track of all their information like address, mothers maiden name, and bank account numbers. The police were dumbfounded on how he was able to keep track of all these individuals information.
- Phillip Cummings
Phillip worked for a software company and would sell customers information to a Nigerian Identity theft ring. He would sell the information for $30 a person and did this 30,000 times!
Frequently Asked Questions
Identity theft is a broad criminal offense. There are multiple offenses that would fit the category of identity. The first offense would be mail theft, this means that someone has stolen mail from another person. The second offense is false use of credit card, this means a credit card was used for purchases not authorized by the cardholder. The third offense is a forgery, this is a broad offense because it could mean forged signatures and/or documents. The fourth offense is counterfeiting, this means illegally altering, manufacturing and distributing of a fake item meant to mimic another. The fifth offense is a cyber scam, this is passing off as a collection agency or another type of business to try to collect an individual’s personal information to access their financials. The six offense is check forgery, to forge a check you would address it to you and sign it off as someone else. The last offense is trying to pass off as someone else for some type of benefit. This could be for medical benefits, claiming rights of a minor or giving a false name when apprehended.
Identity theft is a criminal offense that can have you face a sentence of 1 – 15 years in prison. Identity theft can be either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the factors that led to your arrest you could face a sentence between 1 – 40+ years with possible probation. If there are less than 20 victims or more than $5,000 in financial gain, then it is a second-degree felony. If there are more than 20 victims or more than $50,000 in financial gain, then it will be a first-degree felony. Misdemeanor convictions can have up to $1,000 in fines while a felony can be up to $15,000 in fines. The defendant may also be asked for restitution for the affected parties.
There are a few ways your lawyer might try to defend you in an identity theft case. They may say that you were under the impression that you were authorized to use the identity. Another defense would be that there were no signs of unlawful conduct with the stolen identity. Even though you did steal the information, what is there to hold you liable for if there is no evidence of conducting in unlawful activities. Another defense would be that you didn’t intend to use a stolen identity. For example, let’s say you join a bank and there is another member of the bank that shares the same name. An administrative error happens, and you are given access to their account. Their savings, personal and banking account is open to you. Unknowing of this mistake you decide to go on a shopping spree because you just got paid. This would be an example of accidental identity theft because you did not purposely go out and try to access their account, the bank just made an error and merged your account.
A defense a corporation could use is that their systems were hacked. It is common for hackers to get into businesses systems, especially big-name corporations. They could claim that the hackers were the one who released clients information or sold the information to competitors.
When trying to prove identity theft they might show any bank statements made during the time period to show prior purchases. The statements can provide when and where the charges were made. If there was an investigation conducted, then you would want to provide any of their findings as evidence. Findings can include documents with the victim’s information or copies of their identification.
Looking for identity theft lawyers?
According to the Federal Trade Commission, Florida is in the top 5 of states with identity theft activity. Identity theft is a criminal offense that has a broad definition that can range from mail theft to medical identity theft. If an individual is using another person’s card, information, or documents to benefit them with consent then it is identity theft. This can be a misdemeanor or felony and can lead to more than 40 years in prison depending on how many victims were involved or how much financial gain was received. There is a possibility of committing identity theft without knowing but it is best to be aware of what information you’re putting in and making sure it is your own. If you do decide to use someone else’s then make sure you get consent ahead of time.
At the Smith & Eulo Law Firm, we have criminal defense lawyers to represent you in your case. Call us today for a free consultation at 407-930-8912 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We strive to always be available for you.