When you face arrest and criminal charges for credit card fraud, the consequences are stressful and disruptive of your everyday life, especially if sentenced to jail. Moreover, fraud allegations are serious because they involve different entities like banks, federal organizations, or even personal businesses that are capable of pursuing justice by any means.
Subsequently, you may be fighting against overwhelming evidence from the prosecutor whose aim is to prove you are guilty of credit card fraud for the complainant's benefits. Despite the general nature of credit card fraud in Las Vegas, Nevada, and other states, many defendants face unfair trials, especially if they face false accusations of others' illegal operations.
You want to contact a criminal defense lawyer who will handle your case diligently to prevent the onset of uninvestigated matters in court. With the help of a lawyer from The Law Offices of Martin Hart, you can build legal defenses against your credit card fraud case. Moreover, we are happy to support you through the trial and proceedings period by giving you professional advice, such as the type of information to seek. Our support also extends to performing several legal filings and applications for you, to ease the burden of dealing with court proceedings alone.
The Legal Definition of Credit Card Fraud in Nevada
Under the Nevada Revised Statutes, section 205-760, the offense of credit card fraud is misusing a credit card intentionally to defraud an individual or a business entity. Based on the statute's legal definition, the prosecutor should prove all the necessary elements before the judge finds you guilty.
However, credit card fraud occurs in various ways, based on the circumstances of the case. Therefore, it is not practical to hold all defendants by the same measure of criminal elements, primarily when different actions amount to credit card fraud. Nevertheless, the intention to defraud must be present for any fraud, as it is based on unlawful purposes.
A fraudulent act involves making pretenses or obtaining information unlawfully for your benefit or profit. In some cases, fraud also arises when two or more parties agree to conceal certain information from unsuspecting parties leading to unlawful gains. Thus, the prosecutor should prove that your actions aim at obtaining profits based on your actions. However, it is important to note that, in some cases, the prosecutor will assume the presence of an intention to defraud based on specific activities.
First, there is an automatic assumption of unlawful intention when you use a credit card within four days of an issued notice of revocation. Here, the credit card owner may have detected a suspicious use of his/her account and reported it to the credit card company. Alternatively, the company may see inconsistent uses of a particular account and issue a notice of revocation. If you continue to use the revoked card within the first four days of cancellation, the intention to defraud is presumed.
There is also a presumed intention to defraud when you hold two or more cards registered under other people's information. For example, possessing a card registered in someone else’s name and not related to you by marriage or under a parent/child relationship is not permissible, as credit cards are personal property.
Hence, if several transactions show that you used a credit card that does not match your identification information, there is a readily presumed intention to engage in fraud. Additionally, having more than one card under different names is also an indicator of underlying fraudulent purposes, especially if you cannot explain who the card owners are or how you possessed the credit cards.
Lastly, once you try to use a credit card and the creditor or the card issuer fails to authorize the transaction, you are a direct suspect of fraud. The creditor's refusal to allow the card raises the alarm to authorities, who will then investigate the validity of your ownership of the card. If any information is available to prove that you have no right to use the credit card in question during transactions, you may face fraud charges.
Often, the credit card owners are guilty of such activities, especially where they default in paying the accumulated debt on the credit cards. Consequently, the creditor may refuse to authorize additional transactions until there is the complete payment of the outstanding balance.
Types of Chargeable Credit Card Fraud
As mentioned above, different defendants will engage in varying activities that all amount to credit card fraud, as long as there is an underlying element to defraud the victim. Thus, it would be best to learn of the different activities that may attract credit card fraud charges to help you understand why you may have faced arrest. The various unlawful actions that amount to credit card fraud include:
Using a Credit Card Wrongfully To Secure Debt
The credit card system operates such that you can use the card to make transactions even when you do not have any liquid funds in your account. The transactions continue, provided you make repayments of the outstanding balance to the credit card company every month, or as otherwise agreed. Thus, you have a responsibility to make payments on time and only accumulate debt that you can pay off.
However, if you engage in unlawful activities like getting large debt amounts, then discarding the credit card, and applying for a different card company without paying your initial debt, it will amount to fraud. Other times, you may use another person's credit card to accumulate debt and leave it to him/her to clear it later. If the person did not authorize you to use the card, you would also be answerable to credit card fraud charges.
Lying During Your Credit Card Application
When applying for a credit card, the issuer requires certain information like whether you have a steady job and whether you can make credit card payments at the appropriate time to avoid debt wrangles. Moreover, the issuer may request documents on your credit card history with other entities to operate as proof of compliance.
Giving false information when responding to any of the prompts amounts to fraud, primarily because the credit card issuer relies on the incorrect data to provide access to their funds. Thus, if you do not meet the requirements you represented during the application, the creditor can raise criminal fraud complaints against you. Commonly, lying about having a stable income source brings about inconsistent credit repayments that lead to fraudulent misrepresentations.
Buying and Selling Credit Cards
Some defendants also buy credit cards from third parties, which may be stolen or wrongfully fabricated. If your case involves such actions, the prosecutor will have a relatively easy time proving that you intended to engage in fraud, primarily because it is unlawful to buy a credit card. Moreover, selling credit cards also amounts to fraud, as you will be distributing another person's information to third parties who will then use the cards for their benefit.
You become an enabler of fraud in such instances, even if you do not use the credit cards for sale in your transactions. Apart from facing crimes related to fraud, you may also face charges of theft or robbery. The possibility arises because of the prohibitive regulations that prevent the sale of credit cards. The only permissible transaction related to receiving a credit card is when you pay the credit card company's registration fee to activate your account.
Using an Expired or Revoked Credit Card Knowingly
You do not have to steal or use a credit card without the owner's permission to be guilty of credit card fraud, as personal account holders may also try to defraud the credit card company. For example, when you use an expired card hoping that the transaction will proceed with fraudulent intentions in mind, any reports made by the credit card company about your activities will attract criminal investigations. Here, the prosecutor must prove that you knowingly used an expired or revoked card, meaning that you had ulterior motives to access profits by drawing funds from an account that should not be used.
Skimming a Credit Card
The act of skimming a credit card involves placing a card skimmer that collects another person's card details without their knowledge. Credit card skimming often occurs in outlets like petrol stations, ATMs, or other places where innocent third parties conduct regular transactions, not knowing that someone is skimming their credit card magnetic strip.
Once the fraudulent party collects the card information, he/she uses it to make personal transactions charged to the victim's account. While the fraud victim may detect foreign transactions, he/she is unable to stop them until he/she makes a report to the relevant authorities to block the defrauder's transactions.
Knowingly Accepting Services or Goods from Unlawful Use of Credit Cards
You could also face credit card fraud charges even when you are not directly involved in fraudulent transactions if the prosecutor proves that you knew of an ongoing credit card fraud. It would help if you had also learned that the scam facilitated the acquisition of goods and services that you enjoyed. Subsequently, you may face common charges with the other offenders responsible for stealing or forging credit cards.
Engaging in Federal Credit Card Fraud
You could face more severe consequences if your actions led to frauding a federal institution. You are guilty of federal credit card fraud if you:
Crossed the state border after committing credit card fraud
You defrauded a government body, including medical facilities
You saved within the vicinity of government property
The prosecutor must prove that each of your actions intended to defraud an individual or an entire government entity, meaning that innocent mistakes do not count as fraud.
Penalties for Credit Card Fraud
The punishments issued for credit card fraud depend on the type of activity you engaged in. Despite this, most offenses will fall under Category D of the Nevada laws. Thus, the standard penalties are:
A prison sentence from one to four years
Mandatory restitution to the victim of fraud
Paying a fine of up to $5,000
If you are guilty of federal credit card fraud, the punishments are more severe and could lead to imprisonment in federal prison for up to twenty years. Like giving false information when applying for a credit card, minor offenses attract lower penalties, leading to harsh punishment. The sentence includes spending one year in jail or paying a $2,000 fine.
Defenses for Credit Card Fraud
Once you present your predicament to a criminal defense attorney, he/she will take it up and conduct thorough research and investigations. If the preparation process goes smoothly, your attorney should prepare persuasive legal defenses to present during the trial. It helps to remember that not all defenses will be applicable in your case. Thus, your lawyer will analyze the circumstances to ensure that he/she presents the most sound arguments on your behalf. Some common defenses for the crime include:
Evidence collection occurred in an illegal search and seizure
Your is a mistaken identity case
You committed an innocent mistake because you had no intention to commit fraud
Once you schedule an appointment with your criminal defense lawyer, he/she will expound on each of the defenses, including providing the strengths and weaknesses of each argument. In doing so, you will be ready to face the prosecutor and counter his/her allegations. If the defenses sway the judge, you may receive a significantly reduced sentence or a complete acquittal.
Find a Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
Handling fraud charges is complicated, especially if you lack proper legal support. It is vital to engage with an experienced defense attorney who will give you honest feedback on your matter, including the specific defenses to use during the trial. Additionally, a competent lawyer can prove your innocence in mistaken identity cases to receive a full acquittal of charges.
At The Law Offices of Martin Hart, we dedicate ourselves to providing excellent criminal defense services to our clients in Las Vegas, Nevada. Our wealth of experience handling criminal defense cases, including credit card fraud cases, distinguishes our ability for the best possible outcome. Call us today at 702-380-4278 to speak to a fraud crime attorney.