Criminal Defense Attorneys Providing Legal Representation for Individuals Accused of Credit Card Fraud
Los Angeles County is a major source of credit card fraud in Southern California. Every year, millions of dollars are lost by most major banks due to card fraud.
As a result, new emphasis has been put in place in recent years on prevention and criminal prosecution of credit card fraud cases.
If you are under investigation or already charged with credit card fraud, call a Los Angles credit card fraud attorney at our law firm to review the details of your case and discuss legal options.
Do not make any statements to local police detectives or federal agents. Remain silent and call our office immediately.
Credit card fraud is considered a white collar crime of:
- theft and fraud committed;
- using a credit card, or;
- another payment method to;
- fraudulently obtain funds or goods.
Credit card fraud can occur in a variety of forms, including:
- counterfeiting credit cards,
- using stolen or lost credit cards, and;
- fraudulently obtaining credit cards through the mail.
It can also include fraudulent account access with account and PIN numbers, as well as any equipment designed or utilized to carry out the fraud. Credit card fraud may be prosecuted in either a California state or Federal court.
California's credit card fraud laws, contained in Penal Code Sections 484e-j, prohibit all manner of fraudulent activity related to credit cards.
As you will see below, the credit card fraud provisions are broken down into 6 separate code sections, each targeting a specific aspect of credit card fraud.
Each of these sections, numbered letter “e” through “j” has its own elements and subtle differences. In general, however, these laws all prohibit the use of credit cards with the intent to defraud.
Contact a Los Angeles credit card fraud lawyer at our office to discuss the details and circumstances of your case.
Common California Credit Card Fraud Cases
- California Penal Code Section 484e: Criminalizes the sale, transfer, or acquisition of credit or debit cards, or associated account information, with the intent to defraud.
Penalties may vary depending on the amount of fraudulent cards possessed, and this may determine whether 484e is charged as a felony or a misdemeanor case. In all cases, the defendant is accused of fraudulent possession of access cards.
It should be noted that actual use, or attempted use, is not a necessary element of this crime. Therefore, simply being discovered in possession of a card that is not rightfully yours may subject you to charges under this section.
- California Penal Code Section 484f: Prohibits the making, alteration, or embossing of a counterfeit access card as well as the use, or attempted, use of said cards.
Also prohibited is the signing of the card itself, or a receipt, sales slip, sales draft, etc. related to the fraudulent access card.
Compare this section to the preceding one. While 484e was concerned primarily with possession of the fraudulent cards, 484f deals with the creation of the fraudulent cards themselves as well as the attempt to complete financial transactions using the cards. Contact our Los Angeles credit card fraud attorneys for more information.
- California Penal Code Section 484g: Targets the use of the types of illegitimate access cards, or account information, described in the preceding two sections to obtain money, goods, services, or anything else of value with the intent to defraud.
Section 484g is treated as a theft crime, and is a wobbler. If the value of the fraudulent transactions within a six-month period is $950 or less, the violation is a misdemeanor. Otherwise, it constitutes a felony crime.
- California Penal Code Section 484h: Targets retailers or other persons who process fraudulent credit card transactions.
Suppose someone comes into a grocery shop with one of the fraudulent cards described in 484e and, with full knowledge that the card is illegitimate, the clerk processes a transaction.
The clerk has now engaged in credit card fraud even though they neither created nor used the card themselves. This makes intuitive sense, as the clerk is facilitating the fraudulent cardholder's crime by processing the transaction.
Once again, the $950 loss amount cutoff applies to determine whether the retailer will be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony. Call a Los Angeles credit card fraud attorney from our law firm for more details.
- California Penal Code Section 484i: Concerns several aspects of the physical access cards themselves.
In addition to prohibiting the possession of access card-making equipment with the intent to defraud, it also prohibits the “completion” of access cards without the consent of the true cardholder.
Also prohibited is the unauthorized alteration of cards, such as manipulation of the data contained in the cards' magnetic strips through use of technology.
- California Penal Code Section 484j: Prohibits the “publishing” of access card, or associated account, information with the intent that it be used, or with knowledge or reason to believe that it will be used, to commit fraud or avoid the payment of a lawful charge.
In simple terms, this section targets those who traffic in others' credit card information. Publishing can include oral or written communications.
In the modern world, however, the vast majority of publishing will occur on websites that create a market for fraudulent card and account information.
As you can see, California's credit card fraud laws are fairly comprehensive. Whether you are accused of possessing a bogus card, altering a legitimate card without permission, using someone's card without permission, possessing card-making equipment, or publishing credit card information on the internet, you can be potentially charged with a criminal offense.
Therefore, It's critical to consult with a Los Angeles credit card fraud lawyer at our office as soon as possible.
Legal Penalties for a Credit Card Fraud Conviction
Depending on the specific circumstances of the alleged credit card fraud, and the defendant's criminal history, charges may be filed as either a misdemeanor or a felony case.
The maximum penalties for a misdemeanor credit card fraud conviction are:
- six months in county jail, and
- a $1,000 fine.
The maximum penalties for a felony credit card fraud conviction are:
- 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years in the state prison, and
- a $10,000 fine.
Speak with a Los Angeles credit card fraud defense lawyer at our office for specific details of your case.
Legal Defenses against a Credit Card Fraud Case
For most forms of credit card fraud, the prosecutor must prove that you possessed the intent to defraud.
As used in the credit card fraud context, the intent to defraud is the intent to deceive a merchant or other individual in connection with the use of a credit card, debit card, or associated bank accounts so as to deprive them of money or some other valuable thing.
Without proof of your intent to defraud, you cannot be convicted of credit card fraud.
Contact a Los Angeles Credit Card Fraud Attorney
Credit card fraud cases are frequently complex and fact-specific. If you or a family member is being investigated or charged with credit card fraud, call an experienced Los Angeles credit card fraud lawyer at our top-ranked criminal defense law firm today.
We offer a free consultation to assess your potential criminal liability, any viable defenses you may have, and the best approach to achieving a positive outcome in your case.
Because the evidence in this type of white collar crime often involve complex financial documents, it can be difficult determining who is criminally responsible, and police detectives may accuse an innocent person.
A Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer from our law firm can often intercede and prevent the filing of formal criminal charges. Many credit card fraud cases can be filed as a federal crime where the where the takes are very high.
At Eisner Gorin LLP, our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys are prepared to build a strong legal defense on your behalf.
A felony criminal conviction can be a life-changing event. Whether you are currently under investigation or have already been arrested, we can help you.
You need a defense lawyer in your corner who will aggressively fight for your legal rights and freedom. We have a track record of success over our decades of criminal law practice.
Call us for a free immediate response, 24 hours a day, at 877-781-1570.