Credit Card Fraud Attorney in West Palm Beach

Ohle Law P.A. provides potent defense in Florida federal cases

Credit card safety is a top concern for consumers. Every day, millions of people use cards to shop online and to make purchases at retail outlets. For many people, credit cards are the most convenient method of paying their bills, booking travel, using car services, and even ordering food delivery. Most people have determined that the rewards of using credit cards outweigh the risks. Nevertheless, the risks are still present and are ever evolving as digital technology advances. The number of Florida credit card fraud scams reported each year has skyrocketed over the past decade. Today’s credit card schemes are committed across interstate and even international borders. These scams often involve several people who work together as part of a criminal network. Sometimes, innocent people may find themselves in the middle of a fraudulent credit card scheme and require the help of a Florida credit card fraud lawyer to avoid being convicted of criminal charges.

Federal credit card fraud laws

Credit card and similar payment mechanisms are described by federal law as “access devices.” A person may be convicted on a federal credit card fraud offense if he or she knowingly or with fraudulent intent:

  • Produces fraudulent cards
  • Distributes fraudulent cards
  • Uses a fraudulent card to obtain items that exceed $1,000 in value

Arrested on a federal charge?

Speak with an attorney immediately. Don’t say anything that might incriminate yourself.

Types of credit card fraud

There are several different types of payment card fraud. Generally, the offense is divided into “card present” and “card not present” crimes. Card present crimes occur after the card itself has been physically stolen. After the card is stolen, the card thief may apply for new credit under the victim’s name or change the address and request a new card on the same account. Card not present crimes are perhaps the most alarming because tracing the offense back to the thief is much more difficult. These crimes occur while the victim is still in possession of the card and initially has no idea the card has been compromised. Fraudsters commit card not present fraud by obtaining the card number and using it remotely.

Counterfeit card fraud

Cards may be counterfeited through a process known as “skimming.” When a card is skimmed, the card’s information is duplicated and transferred onto a fake magnetic strip. The information is then used to make a new card that typically does not function when processed through a merchant’s credit card machine. However, the card typically looks convincing enough to prompt the merchant to process the transaction manually.

Account takeover fraud

One of the most common types of credit card fraud is account takeover. Fraudsters access account information, typically online through cyber crime. After extracting the information, the fraudster will call the account holder’s credit card company and request an address change. When the card company asks for identity verification, the fraudster simply provides answers from the personal data he or she stole. Some people are able to commit account takeover by simply using the victim’s Social Security number, address, and mother’s maiden name.

Credit card application fraud

Sometimes a fraudster is able to obtain a credit card in someone else’s name by using the person’s information on an application. Junk mail is a common source of information that can later be used for credit card fraud. Identity thieves use credit card statements, card applications, and utility bills to create a file containing the information they need to obtain a card in the victim’s name.

Credit card phishing

A phishing scam consists of sending multiple emails to compel banking customers to provide their information. Phishing scammers do not necessarily know where the email recipients bank, but they play a game of probability by sending out a large number of emails and assume at least a small percentage of the recipients will believe the email to be legitimate communication from a credit card company or bank at which they have an account. The initiator of the email will typically pretend to be a staff member from a bank. If the potential victim responds, the fraudster will send a link directing the person to a fraudulent website that directs the person to provide personal information along with his or her account number.

Proving credit card fraud

There are certain facts prosecutors must establish before a defendant can be convicted of credit card fraud. All three elements must be established beyond a reasonable doubt. The prosecution must prove:

  • the defendant fraudulently obtained or forged someone else’s name on a credit application or transaction.
  • the defendant used a credit card knowing the card has expired, been revoked, or lacks funds to cover the transaction.
  • the defendant sold merchandise knowing the card used was unauthorized or obtained in an illegal manner.

West Palm Beach credit card fraud defense

There are certain instances in which a person may be mistakenly accused of credit card fraud. A person who believe he or she is authorized to use a card that was given by a family member may be accused after making an unauthorized purchase. The owner of an ATM may be investigated if his or her machine is compromised by fraudsters for the purpose of skimming card information. A merchant may be accused of fraud if he or she is believed to have accepted a credit card despite knowing the card is fraudulent. Anyone who believes he or she is being mistakenly accused of credit card fraud should contact a West Palm Beach credit card fraud defense lawyer.