Common Reasons for Fraud Charges

In 2020, there were over 4.8 million complaints of fraud to the Federal Trade Commission, including identity theft. Of that number, at least 2.2 million people were charged with fraud in the United States. This is a major jump in both reports and charges of fraud from previous years, and the number is only climbing, which means that there is a good chance that you may stand accused of fraud even if you feel you are not guilty.

In this brief article, a fraud defense attorney in Tampa with The Rickman Law Firm shares a few of the most common types of fraud and what to do if you have been charged with fraud in Florida.

Identity Theft and Credit Card Fraud

Identity theft is discussed in Chapter 817 of the Florida Statutes, but it may also carry federal charges. The general takeaway of this statute is that “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” is committing a felony.

The severity of the crime determines the severity of the punishment. They are as follows:

  • Fraud perpetrated is $5,000 or more, or the identity of 10 or more people is stolen: minimum three-year mandatory prison sentence
  • Fraud perpetrated is $50,000 or more, or the identity of 20 or more people is stolen: minimum five-year mandatory prison sentence
  • Fraud perpetrated is $100,000 or more, or the identity of 30 or more people is stolen: minimum 10-year prison sentence.

Chapter 817 of the Florida Statutes continues to define various identity theft laws and their respective penalties. A few examples include the theft of the identity of a deceased person, or the creation and use of a fictitious person.

You might be thinking “I didn’t steal someone’s identity, I just used their card to make a purchase.” But, in Florida that is the same thing as identity theft. Even if the person gave you verbal permission to use their card and then claims the card was stolen, you may be charged. It is always best to have written consent to make any purchases or charges on someone else’s behalf.

Payment Fraud or “Bounced Checks”

If you’ve ever “floated” or “bounced” checks, you may be charged with payment fraud. Sometimes, your intent might be good — for example, writing a check in the anticipation that you will be paid or have the funds before the person takes it to the bank or before it clears the bank. But this is still a form of fraud.

There are a few elements to know about payment fraud:

  • In Florida, the act of writing out checks from a closed account or that you know won’t be able to clear, also called “Void Checks,” is considered a 1st degree misdemeanor. If found guilty, you may receive a sentence of jail time up to a maximum of 1 year. You may also be fined a maximum of $1,000. However, if you wrote out a check(s) valued at $150 or more, you will receive Florida fraud charges of a 3rd degree misdemeanor that includes a jail time of 15 years maximum and maximum fines up to $10,000.
  • If you wrote a check out for the exchange of something valuable but then issued a stop payment on that check, you’ll face Florida fraud charges of a 2nd degree misdemeanor. A 2nd degree misdemeanor penalizes you with a maximum jail time of 60 days and a maximum fine of $500 unless the check(s) you stopped was valued at $150 or more. In this case, you will be charged with a 3rd degree felony, receiving jail time up to a maximum of 15 years and a maximum fine of $10,000.

Don’t Face Fraud Charges Alone

If you’re facing fraud charges, you may be tempted to represent yourself, especially when you know you are not guilty. However, that is a bad idea. Never face fraud charges alone. An experienced Tampa fraud defense lawyer will help you understand the best defense for your case. Contact The Rickman Law Firm today to learn the best way to handle your case.

For a free consultation with a fraud defense attorney in Tampa, please contact The Rickman Law Firm today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.


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