Know what you’re up against with identity theft, counterfeiting and mail fraud
If you’re face any type of fraud charges, it’s critical to be extremely careful about what you say or write, to document everything and, most importantly, to follow the advice of an experienced Columbus criminal attorney.
What is identity theft?
Identity theft happens when someone takes and uses someone else’s personal information, such as credit card numbers, bank account numbers, insurance information or Social Security number, to purchase goods or services illegally. It’s also considered fraud when someone creates, uses, takes or possesses someone else’s personal information in order to help someone else commit a crime.
Penalties for identity theft.
Depending on who the victim is and the value of the money or goods taken, identity fraud charges can range from a fifth– to first–degree felony. This means penalties can be as low as probation or six to 12 months in prison and $2,500 in fines, or even up to 11 years in prison and $20,000 in fines. Courts can also order that the person convicted pay restitution to the victim if he or she suffered a financial loss. This sum depends on how much the victim lost.
In addition, Ohio imposes higher penalties when the victim of identity fraud is a disabled adult or an elderly person.
What is counterfeiting?
Counterfeiting is said to be one of the oldest tricks in the book. Even our forefathers saw the threat of counterfeit currency and included a clause in the Constitution to protect the U.S. currency’s integrity. Today, counterfeiting has even expanded into the drug world, with dealers selling look-alike drugs to customers.
- Documents: Government, financial documents, securities and foreign currency (all considered a federal offense).
- Trademarks: Goods can also be altered by copying a brand’s trademark (think “Louis Vuitton”).
- Controlled substances: A counterfeit controlled substance is any substance other than a controlled substance that a reasonable person would believe to be a controlled substance because of similarities in appearances or price.
Penalties for counterfeiting
The power to punish the act of counterfeiting itself lies with the United States Congress. Conditions in the federal counterfeiting law provide for penalties including:
- A fine of up to $250,000 and a prison sentence of up to 20 years for the counterfeiting of U.S. obligations and securities.
- You could go to jail for up to six months for possessing counterfeit controlled substances. For making, selling or advertising a counterfeit controlled substance, you could go to prison for up to one year, and if you make, sell or advertise the substance within the vicinity of a juvenile or a school, you could go to prison for up to 18 months.
What is mail fraud?
Mail and wire fraud (an attempt to use the Internet, telephone or fax to take money from someone) is considered a federal offense, regardless of whether the mail ever left Ohio. Any scheme to intentionally take property or honest services from someone through mail or wire communication fall under this category. Just deceiving someone does not amount to fraud—there must be intent to take money or services.
- Bank fraud: Bank fraud applies to someone who intentionally defrauds or attempts to defraud a financial institution to obtain money, securities or other property under that institution’s control.
- Health care fraud: Someone who defrauds or attempts to defraud any healthcare benefit program using false or fraudulent pretenses can be prosecuted in federal court.
- Securities and commodities fraud: Securities and commodities fraud refers to any attempt to defraud someone involving items such as stocks, derivatives and commodities. Many different types of financial swindles can be prosecuted in federal court as a result.
Penalties for mail and wire fraud
Similar to counterfeiting, mail and wire fraud is prosecuted on a federal level. Penalties can include:
- Imprisonment for not more than 20 years (five years per offense)
- Fine of not more than $250,000 (not more than $500,000 for organizations)
- An order to pay victim restitution
- Confiscation of any property realized from the offense.
Contact Yavitch & Palmer today
If you have been charged with any of these types of fraud, you need an Ohio criminal defense attorney.
Call us today at 614-224-6142 or fill out our online quick contact form and we will contact you to schedule an initial consultation. You can’t face this battle alone and you shouldn’t. Yavitch & Palmer will stand by your side.
Read Stephen’s bio to lean about his 19 years of experience as a Columbus criminal defense lawyer.