Credit and debit card fraud (or obtaining something of value through deception) is a very common crime in Kentucky and throughout the country.
It can be very lucrative and hard to prosecute, depending on the facts of the situation and the sophistication of those involved, but the potential penalties are stiff. If criminal charges are brought, they could involve state or federal prosecution.
Kentucky Credit and Debit Card Fraud Law
Credit and debit card fraud are types of identity theft which involve an unauthorized party’s illegally using a credit or debit card to buy something or to steal money. Under Kentucky law:
- A credit card is any instrument issued by a business or financial institution that allows the cardholder to receive money, goods, services or anything else of value on credit.
- A debit card is any instrument issued by a business or financial institution which permits the holder to receive money, goods, services or anything of value by using money deposited by the cardholder.
Kentucky credit and debit card fraud crimes are spelled out in the state’s Credit and Debit Card Crime Act. It breaks down crimes into three categories:
- Fraudulent card applications: intentionally making false statements about the person’s identity or financial information to obtain a card from an issuer.
- Fraudulently reporting a card as lost or stolen: fraudulently using a card that was reported as lost or stolen or reporting a card as lost or stolen then fraudulently stating that transactions weren’t authorized, when they actually were.
- Misrepresenting that goods or services were provided; when a business (or an employee) intentionally represents that money, goods, services or something of value was provided but it actually wasn’t.
- Stealing or receiving stolen cards: Taking a card from another person without the approval of the cardholder or the issuer, or receiving a stolen card with the intent to sell or improperly transfer it to someone else.
- Fraudulently buying or selling a card: Buying a card from a party other than the issuer, or selling one if you aren’t the issuer.
- Using a card as security for debt: Using the card to secure a debt with the intent to defraud.
- Making fake cards: Creating or embossing an imitation card, with the intent to defraud or knowingly possessing a fake credit card.
- Unauthorized signature: Signing for a card without the cardholder’s permission, with the intent to defraud.
- Phishing: Intentionally soliciting, requesting or taking an act to induce someone to provide their card information electronically by misidentifying yourself.
Depending on the circumstances, conviction of one of these crimes would be a class A, C or D felony. Punishments range from one to fifty years of imprisonment.
Federal Law Covering Kentucky Credit and Debit Fraud
Federal laws are aimed at discouraging organized criminal trafficking of credit and debit cards.
- Under 18 U.S. Code §1029 credit and debit cards and other items allowing access to financial institutions are considered “access devices.”
- Crimes based on federal law include knowingly producing or distributing fraudulent credit cards or doing so with intent to defraud.
- Anyone engaging in the use of fake credit cards and who obtains items of a certain value may be prosecuted under federal law.
Federal laws cover the following:
- Creating, using, or selling counterfeit access devices.
- Trafficking in or using such a device to get something of value worth at least $1,000 within twelve months.
- Possessing fifteen or more counterfeit access devices, whether or not they’ve been used and whether or not the possessor created them.
- Controlling or having custody of any equipment intended to produce counterfeit devices.
- Engaging in transactions using counterfeit devices to get payment or receive items of value with total value of at least $1,000 within 12 months.
- Knowingly soliciting someone to get equipment to create counterfeit access devices.
- Acts that may contribute to a criminal conspiracy related to credit card fraud, including creating or selling in hardware or software to engage in credit card fraud.
Get Help Defending Kentucky Credit and Debit Fraud Charges
If you or a loved one is being investigated for or charged with credit or debit card fraud, discuss it with one of the attorneys at the Lexington, KY-based Carman Law Firm. As criminal defense attorneys with years of experience, we offer thorough, experienced representation. Call today at (859) 838-1415 or fill out this online contact form to find out how we can help you.