| Read Time: 2 minutes | Criminal Defense

The Serious Consequences of Identity Theft and Fraud

Gone are the days when our identities were protected so long as we had our wallet and identification on us. Thieves do not even need our state-issued IDs to steal our identity or our plastic to get our credit card numbers in the digital age. Thieves can now collect more than just this information about us—they can take unemployment benefits we are not entitled to and other state and federal benefits. Florida has been facing such a large amount of fraudulent schemes that the state has had to implement new programs to oversee fraudulent actions—actions that can lead to hefty jail sentences and federal or state charges for those caught. Identity Theft Identity theft is literally taking someone’s identity. This can be either a state or federal crime that can include everything from opening or closing accounts, engaging in mortgage or insurance fraud, forging signatures and/or information, to utilizing a Social Security number to receive government benefits to which you are not entitled. Unlawful receipt of unemployment benefits is a relatively new phenomenon in Florida that is starting to become monitored closely. People are usurping personal information from public entities such as hospitals and schools and then applying for (and often receiving) unemployment benefits before there is an opportunity for verification. An estimated $5.6 billion of taxpayers’ money has been shelled out in these fraudulent schemes, although an estimated 97,000 fraudulent claims have been identified and stopped due to the oversight of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, according to a recent CNN article. Credit Card Fraud Credit card fraud is also a serious crime; individuals found guilty of credit card fraud in Florida can be subject to mandatory jail time per Florida law. You may have started taking credit card number from customers at work, gotten them from the internet, stolen them from a friend or family member, or used a card or card number without permission. Credit card fraud extends beyond the use of the physical card and can include typing the card number in online to make purchases or payments. By utilizing another person’s credit card online and authenticating it as your own, you may have also committed identity theft. Robbery and Burglary These are often underlying offenses that lead to charges of identity theft and or credit card fraud. Robbery is taking from a person and burglary is taking from a person’s home. If you do either of these things and obtain personal information such as names, account numbers, bank or credit card numbers or other similar information that you use to gain a benefit, you may be charged with offenses in addition to robbery and burglary that may lead to even greater punishments, including federal charges. Credit Card Fraud and Identity Theft Defense Lawyers Using a credit card without permission or using someone’s identification without their knowledge is a serious crime both under Florida and federal law. If you have been charged with any crime regarding fraud, it is important to formulate a defense early before it is too late. The best thing you can do once you have been charged with a crime involving fraud in Florida is to contact an experienced Florida theft and fraud defense attorney. As former prosecutors at Moses & Rooth, we know the ins and outs of the criminal justice system and how it works on both sides. The knowledgeable attorneys at our Orlando office will ensure that your rights are protected and every avenue of your defense is properly explored.

Continue Reading

| Read Time: < 1 minute | Identity Theft

Florida law enforcement is cracking down on cyber crime this month

October has been designated National Cyber Security Awareness Month. As a result, Florida officials are cracking down on cyber theft crimes, internet child pornography crimes and other electronically-based offenses. Florida is being targeted by both state and federal officials especially, due to the number of identity theft cases which have been reported to the Federal Trade Commission in recent years. While just over 8,300 of these cases were reported by Florida residents and businesses in 2007, more than 17,600 were reported in 2011. This jump has caused law enforcement to target Florida offenders in particular this year. In fact, Florida offenders are such a priority for federal law enforcement that a top United States Secret Service director recently made a visit to the Sunshine State to discuss enforcement issues with federal, state and local officials. Southern and Central Florida are considered the identity theft capitals of America at present, given that it witnesses more of these incidents than Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and other highly populous American geographies. It is thus important for residents to understand that law enforcement will be cracking down on identity theft and other cyber crime suspects in the coming weeks. Commonly, individuals find themselves in situations where they behave with good intentions, yet end up in hot water related to cyber crime charges. If you are at all concerned that you may be targeted as a suspect for this kind of infraction, it is advisable that you speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss your situation and explore your options. Source: Sun Sentinel, “Top Secret Service agent helps kick off cyber-crime campaign in South Florida,” Ihosvani Rodriguez, Oct. 11, 2012

Continue Reading

| Read Time: < 1 minute | Identity Theft

Tax Identity Theft Prevalent in Florida

Much safer than dealing drugs, experts say identity theft – especially tax identity theft – has become increasingly popular in Orlando and abroad. Though it often goes untracked, those accused of identity theft in Florida face lengthy prison sentences and hefty fines. The Federal Trade Commission reports Florida is at the epicenter of the remote crime in the United States, likely due to its large senior citizen population. Since 2008, the IRS reports about 500,000 taxpayers have alleged wage or identity tax fraud. The cases reported continue to climb, tripling between 2009 and last year. Increase in Identity Theft Investigations With mounting pressure to obtain criminal convictions, the FTC, IRS and FBI are upping identity theft investigations. However, there have been numerous complaints with how slow the IRS deals with identity theft allegations. But, even with this perceived slow claims process, the IRS said it stopped more than $1 billion in false returns in 2011. Law enforcement in Florida has also noticed an increase in tax identity theft, with one North Miami task force officer telling a reporter for The News-Press, “We were seeing Walmart MoneyCards. That was the new crack cocaine. (Criminals) don’t have to sling drugs on the corner, dodging bullets, to make $1,000 when (they can) do one tax return and get $9,000.” Identity theft is a serious charge in Florida, and those accused need to be vigilant in protecting their rights. Hopefully as federal agencies ramp up their efforts to combat identity theft and appease disgruntled consumers the personal rights of the accused do not fall by the wayside.

Continue Reading