Identity Theft Crimes in Florida
The attorneys at the Sammis Law Firm represent clients charged with identity theft and other forms of economic crimes. These crimes are investigated by federal, state and local enforcement agencies. In Florida, these types of crimes are often funneled into the Economic Crimes Unit of the law enforcement agency. The State Attorney’s Office also has prosecutors that focus on Economic Crimes such as white collar crimes, employee theft, and online identity theft.
Many of these cases are prosecuted under Florida Statute §817.568 which prohibits identity theft through the criminal use of another person’s personal identification information. This statute prohibits a person from willfully and without authorization fraudulently using or possessing, with intent to fraudulently use, personal identification information concerning an individual without first obtaining that individual’s consent.
Economic crimes, specifically identity thefts, are the fastest growing crimes in Florida. These crimes impact financial institutions as well as innocent individuals. Identity theft is a tool used to evade detection while committing crimes. The victims in identity theft cases are usually the person or group of people that suffered the actual or potential lost. However, even when an individual does not suffer a financial loss the person may still be considered a victim of identity theft.
If you were charged with any form of identity theft in state court, then contact a criminal defense attorney at the Sammis Law Firm. We take an aggressive approach to fighting criminal charges throughout Tampa, Hillsborough County, FL, and the surrounding areas. Call us today to discuss the accusations against you and possible defenses. Call (813) 250-0500.
Examples of Commonly Committed Identity Theft Crimes in Florida
Over the years different types of identity theft crimes have emerged. The most common examples of identity theft crimes prosecuted in Florida include:
Scheme to Defraud:
Florida Statute § 817.034 is also known as the Florida Communications Fraud Act. It prohibits a systematic, ongoing course of conduct with intent to defraud one or more persons, or with intent to obtain something of value from one or more persons by false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, promises, or willful misrepresentations of a future act. A scheme to defraud can include embezzlement, advanced fee schemes, financial scams/cons, financial elderly exploitation, check kiting, trade secret violations and computer-related financial crimes.
Check kiting refers to the scheme of opening accounts at two or more financial institutions and using the “flat time” of available funds to create fraudulent balances.
In Florida, there is no Florida Statute that specifically pertains to embezzlement, however, these crimes are typically prosecuted under the theft statutes. The term “embezzlement” relates directly to the theft statutes where a business has suffered a substantial financial loss through a scheme to defraud involving a current or former employee who was placed in a position of financial trust.
Advanced Fee Scheme:
Under Florida Statute Section § 817.034, the crime of advanced fee scheme involves deceiving a victim into parting with their monies by convincing them that they will receive a substantial financial benefit in return for providing some modest payment to be made in advance.
Financial Scams and Cons:
Under Florida Statute § 812.014 or § 817.034, financial scams and cons can refer to a variety of different schemes including the “Nigerian Fraud” scam, “Spanish Lottery” scam, “Canadian Lottery” scam, “Pigeon Drop” scam, and “Bank Examiner” scam.
Under Florida Statute § 825.103, it is a crime to knowingly, by deception or intimidation, obtaining or using, or endeavoring to obtain or use an elderly person’s funds or assets with intent to temporarily or permanently deprive that person of the use, benefit or possession of those assets by a person who:
- stands in a position of trust and confidence with the elderly person;
- has a business relationship with the elderly person; or
- exploits an elderly person who lacks capacity to consent.
The term “Elderly Person: is defined in § 825.101 as a person 60 years of age or older who is suffering from the infirmities of aging as manifested by advanced age, organic brain damage or other physical, mental or emotional dysfunction, to the extent that the person’s ability to provide for their own care or protection is impaired.
Trade Secret Violations:
Under Florida Statute § 812.081, it is a crime for any person who, with intent to deprive or withhold from the owner thereof the control of a trade secret or with intent to appropriate to his/her own use or the use of another, steals an article representing a trade secret, or without authority makes a copy.
The term “trade secret” is defined as the whole or any portion or phase of any formula, pattern, device, combination of devices, or compilation of in formation which is for use, or is used, in the operation of a business and which provides the business an advantage or an opportunity to obtain an advantage over those who do not know it or use it. Examples of a trade secret can include any scientific, technical, or commercial information including any design, process, procedure, list of suppliers, list of customers, business code or improvement thereof.
Uttering a Forged Instrument:
Under Florida § 831.02 or 831.09, the crime of uttering a forged instrument involves passing and/or presenting of an official document or payment instrument which is counterfeit, having been altered or having a signature that has been forged, in the attempt or actual receipt of money, merchandise or services.
The term “payment Instrument” refers to a check, draft, money order, travelers check or other instrument for payment of money, whether or not negotiable.
The term “counterfeit” is defined as the manufacture of or arranging to manufacture a payment instrument without the permission of the financial institution, account holder, or organization whose name, routing or account number appears on the payment instrument, or the manufacture of any payment instrument with a fictitious name, routing or account number.
Under Florida Statute § 831.01, the crime of forgery involve falsely making or counterfeiting, alterning or forging an official public record, document or payment instrument, with intent to injure or to defraud another.
Forgery of a Credit Card:
Under Florida Statute § 817.60), it is a crime to act with the intent to defraud a purported issuer or a person or organization providing money, goods, services, or anything of value; or any other person; by falsely making, embossing, or altering in any manner a credit card or uttering such a credit card or who, with intent to defraud, has a counterfeit credit card or any invoice, voucher, sales draft, or other representation or manifestation of a counterfeit credit card in his/her possession, custody or control.
The term “counterfeit credit card” is defined as credit card which is fictitious, altered, forged, any facsimile or false representation, depiction, component of a credit card, or any stolen credit card, obtained as a part of a scheme to defraud or otherwise unlawfully obtained and which may or may not be embossed with account information or a company logo.
Under Florida Statute § 832.05, the crime of check fraud involves checks that are stolen, altered, forged, or counterfeit, written on a closed account, or that have had payment stopped that are uttered, cashed or deposited resulting in the theft of money, merchandise or services.
Counterfeit Payment Instruments:
Under Florida Statute § 831.28, the crime of counterfeit payment instruments involves the possession of a counterfeit payment instrument which is used to counterfeit a payment instrument with the intent to defraud a financial institution, account holder, any person or organization. Payment instruments can include forged checks, counterfeit bills, deeds, money orders, traveler’s checks, credit cards and debit cards.
The term “skimmer” or “wedge” can refer to a device used to copy credit numbers typically used at hotels, restaurant or car rental agencies . The device captures a credit card number after it passes through the device. Devices hold between 20 – 100 credit card numbers. Law enforcement officers are instructed that if a subject is found in possession of a skimmer or wedge, then the officer should immediately notify the Economic Crimes Unit.
United States Treasury Checks include any payment instrument issued by the United States Treasury Department.
Depositing Worthless Item with Intent to Defraud:
Under Florida Statute § 832.05, the crime depositing worthless items with the intent to defraud involves depositing counterfeit, stolen or other worthless checks for the purpose of fraudulently increasing the dollar amount posted to the account. The individual then removes the monies before the financial institution discovers the checks are fraudulent.
Driver’s License (Making or Possession of Material to Make):
Under Florida Statute § 831.29, it is a crime to make or have materials or instruments intending to make a counterfeit driver’s license or identification cards.
Forged or Fake Driver’s License or State Issued Identification Cards:
Under Florida Statute § 322.212, it is unlawful for anyone to knowingly possess or display any blank, forged, counterfeit, stolen, fictitious or unlawfully issued driver’s license or state issued identification card or any instrument resembling or representing a driver’s license or identification card.
Fraudulent Use of Credit Card:
Under Florida Statute § 817.61 it is illegal to use credit cards, ATM cards or debit cards and/or ATM, credit debit account numbers, that are stolen, altered, forged, counterfeit or obtained through fraud, resulting in the theft of money, merchandise or services.
The term “Credit Card” is defined as any instrument or device, whether known as a credit card, credit plate, bank service card, check guarantee card, electronic benefits transfer card (EBT), debit card, or any other instrument, issued by a financial institution for the use of the cardholder in obtaining money, goods, services or anything of value on credit or for use in an automated banking device to obtain any of the services provided through the device.
Identity Theft through the Criminal Use of Personal Identification Information
Under Florida Statute §817.568, any person who willfully and without authorization fraudulently uses or possesses, with intent to fraudulently use, personal identification information concerning an individual without first obtaining that individual’s consent.
Resources for Economic Crimes
Tampa Police Department’s Economic Crimes Unit – the Tampa Police Department (TPD) and other local and federal government agencies jointly and concurrently investigate many economic crimes including Identity Theft, Schemes to Defraud (except those originating via mail or Internet), Embezzlement (when a business suffers loss in excess of $5,000.00; Advanced Fee Schemes, and/or Financial Scams and Cons, Forgery/Uttering Forged Instrument, Check Fraud, Deposit Fraud, Credit Card Fraud / Forgery, Elderly (Financial) Exploitation, Trade Secret Violations, Computer (Internet) Related Financial Crimes, Counterfeit Currency; and Possession or Making Fake Driver’s License / Identification Cards.
Defense Attorneys for Identity Theft Crimes in Tampa, FL
If you have been charged with a crime related to identity theft or online identity theft then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at the Sammis Law Firm. We represent clients on a wide variety of economic crimes prosecuted in state court throughout the Thirteen Judicial Circuit in Tampa, Hillsborough County, FL, and the surrounding areas.
We represent clients throughout Hillsborough County, and the surrounding counties including Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando, and Polk County. Call today for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your case. Call (813) 250-0500.