When people hear the word “theft,” they often think of a masked burglar sneaking into a home or a crook mugging someone in an alley at gunpoint. While these are indeed examples of theft, many crimes involving theft happen in more subtle and nonviolent ways, including through fraud.
What Constitutes Fraud?
“Fraud” is an umbrella term that describes a variety of criminal acts involving the use of deception, false statements, or some other misrepresentation of fact to gain an unfair advantage or financial gain, usually causing a loss to another party.
Common types of fraud include:
- Check and credit card fraud
- Identity theft
- Tax fraud
- Real estate fraud
- Internet fraud
- Insurance fraud
- Workers’ comp fraud
- Bankruptcy fraud
Many fraud crimes in California are considered “wobbler” offenses, meaning that prosecutors can charge them as misdemeanors or felonies depending on the facts of the case and the defendant’s criminal history. At the same time, many fraud offenses can be prosecuted at both the state and federal levels, with some deemed “crimes of moral turpitude” and subjecting legal resident aliens to deportation.
Credit Card Fraud in California
Credit card fraud is one of the most widespread types of fraud, involving taking and dishonestly using another person’s credit card, debit card, or account information for personal gain. In some cases, defendants may also be charged with forgery if they signed the cardholder’s name or used a fictitious name to gain access to a card that did not belong to them. Credit card fraud laws also prohibit the dishonest use of credit cards to obtain money, goods, or services without the intention of paying for them.
Other types of prohibited acts include:
- Defrauding someone using an electronic funds transfer system
- Using a forged, revoked, or expired card
- Stealing, illegally selling, or otherwise illegally obtaining a debit or credit card
- Lying about your or someone else’s financial standing to receive a credit card
Penalties for credit card fraud in California vary greatly depending on the value stolen. If the amount stolen within a period of six consecutive months equals $950 or more, a defendant can be charged with grand theft and sentenced to up to one year in county jail upon conviction. If prosecuted federally, however, defendants can face up to 20 years in prison depending on the extent of the fraudulent acts.
Aggressive Fraud Defense in Riverside
If you have been charged with any type of fraud, your freedom may be at stake. The Riverside criminal defense attorneys at Blumenthal & Moore have more than a century’s worth of experience defending the rights of the accused – and can provide the powerful support you need to minimize your chances of conviction.
Call (951) 682-5110 or connect with us online today to discuss your case in detail.