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 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.