Credit card fraud in Florida is a serious offense. Each year hundreds of Floridians are charged with millions of dollars in credit card fraud in courts across the state. What follows are the laws you need to know if you are faced with a charge of credit card fraud in Florida.
Credit card fraud in Florida is governed by the State Credit Card Crime Act. Broadly, the Act prohibits
- buying or selling of stolen or forged credit cards,
- using another’s credit card without authorization, and
- counterfeiting credit cards.
Under the Act, several different kinds of payment systems are governed, including
- ATM cards,
- banking cards,
- check cards,
- credit cards,
- debit cards, and
- other cards used in financial transactions.
Although most of these crimes are classified as misdemeanors, Florida law authorizes prosecution of credit card fraud via other statutes that may result in a felony conviction.
In general, in order to obtain a conviction of credit card fraud, the prosecutor must show that the defendant
- intentionally used a forged or stolen credit card to obtain money or make a payment for goods or services,
- knew that the card was stolen, forged, or obtained unlawfully, and
- represented him or herself as the cardholder.
Several acts using credit cards in Florida are prohibited by the State Credit Card Fraud Act. Stealing a credit card of another or retaining possession of another’s card without the cardholder’s authorization are both illegal acts. So too is stealing a credit card that was lost or delivered mistakenly also constitutes credit card fraud.
Buying and selling credit cards of others also constitutes credit card fraud in Florida, also dealing in credit cards of another. Creating a forged credit card or altering an existing credit card is prohibited as well, along with signing the credit card of another.
Florida also prohibits using a credit card as security for a debt and using an expired credit card without authorization.
The State Credit Card Fraud Act is very specific in the penalties associated with credit card fraud in Florida. Under the act, two offenses within six months of each other or one offense where the value obtained is over $100 constitute a first degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $1,000.
However, if the defendant is shown to have engaged in three or more acts of credit card fraud within six months or the value of the goods or services is over $100, Florida law classifies it as a third degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
There are two main defenses against credit card fraud charges. Perhaps the most common is that of authorization – that the defendant had authorization from the card holder to make the purchases he or she did.
Another common defense to a charge of credit card fraud in Florida is lack of intent. Florida defendants frequently assert that even though they had the credit card of another, they did not intend to commit fraud or any other illegal act.