Credit Card Fraud

Credit Card Fraud

What Is Credit Card Fraud?

Credit card fraud is a form of financial crime where someone unlawfully obtains and uses another person’s credit card information for fraudulent purposes.

These crimes can be charged at the state and federal levels but are usually handled at the state level. It is also possible to be charged at both state and federal levels for the same crime.

This type of crime can take various forms, and some of the most common credit card fraud activities include:

Stolen Card Fraud – When a credit card is physically stolen from its owner, and the thief uses it to make unauthorized purchases.
Card-Not-Present (CNP) Fraud: This occurs when the credit card information (card number, expiration date, CVV, etc.) is used for online or phone transactions where the physical card is not required.

Card Skimming – Criminals use skimming devices to steal credit card data when customers use their cards at ATMs, gas pumps, or other payment terminals.

Phishing – Fraudsters may use deceptive emails, websites, or phone calls to trick individuals into providing their credit card details unknowingly.

Account Takeover – Cybercriminals gain unauthorized access to a person’s credit card account and make transactions on their behalf.

Carding – This involves using stolen credit card data to make small online purchases to verify if the card is active before using it for more substantial transactions.

Application Fraud – Criminals use stolen identities to apply for new credit cards or open accounts in someone else’s name.

Credit Card Generator – Fraudsters use software to generate valid credit card numbers, hoping to find active accounts.

Lost Card Fraud – If a lost credit card falls into the wrong hands and is used for unauthorized transactions.

Mail Theft – Criminals may steal pre-approved credit card offers, statements, or new credit cards from the victim’s mailbox.

Insider Fraud – This involves employees at businesses that handle credit card transactions exploiting their access to commit fraud.

State and Federal Penalties Can Include:

Penalties vary depending on the jurisdiction and the severity of the offense. In the United States, federal law and state laws govern credit card fraud, and penalties can include both criminal and civil consequences. Here are some general guidelines, but keep in mind that specific penalties may vary based on the circumstances and local laws:

Criminal Penalties:

Misdemeanor Fraud – For less severe cases, where the amount involved is relatively small, offenders may face misdemeanor charges. This can result in fines ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars and potential jail time of up to one year.

Felony Fraud – More serious cases, where significant amounts are involved or the fraud is part of an organized criminal operation, can lead to felony charges. Felony convictions may result in substantial fines and imprisonment for several years, depending on the severity of the offense.

Mandatory Minimum Sentences – In some cases, certain jurisdictions have mandatory minimum sentences for credit card fraud convictions, which means a specified minimum prison sentence must be imposed by the court.

Civil Penalties:

Restitution – Offenders may be required to pay restitution to the victims to compensate for the losses incurred due to the fraud.

Civil Fines – In addition to criminal penalties, credit card fraudsters may be subject to civil fines imposed by financial institutions, payment processors, or credit card companies.

Federal Laws – The United States has several federal laws dealing with credit card fraud, including the Credit Card Fraud Act of 1984 and the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act. Violations of these laws can result in severe penalties, including fines and imprisonment.

Just about any unauthorized use of a credit card can be prosecuted as credit card fraud. Most cases are charged under state laws, but credit card fraud can be charged as an 18 U.S.C. § 1029 federal crime.

It’s important to note that credit card fraud penalties can be influenced by various factors, such as the defendant’s criminal history, the presence of aggravating factors, the extent of the fraud, and whether the case involves identity theft or other related crimes.

What Does a Credit Card Fraud Crime Defense Attorney Do?

A credit card fraud crime defense attorney is a legal professional who specializes in defending individuals or entities accused of credit card fraud. Credit card fraud is a serious offense that involves using someone else’s credit card or credit card information without their consent to make unauthorized purchases or transactions. Defense attorneys play a crucial role in representing their clients throughout the legal process. Here’s what they typically do:

Legal Consultation – The attorney will meet with the accused individual to gather details about the case, review evidence, and understand the circumstances that led to the charges. They will provide legal advice on potential strategies and options for defense.

Case Investigation – The defense attorney will conduct a thorough investigation into the case. This may involve gathering evidence, examining financial records, interviewing witnesses, and reviewing surveillance footage, among other activities. The goal is to identify weaknesses in the prosecution’s case and build a strong defense.

Developing Defense Strategies – Based on the evidence and circumstances of the case, the attorney will develop a defense strategy tailored to the specific situation. This may include arguing lack of intent, mistaken identity, insufficient evidence, or violations of the accused person’s rights during the investigation or arrest.

Plea Negotiations – In some cases, the defense attorney may negotiate with the prosecution to reach a plea bargain that involves reduced charges or penalties in exchange for a guilty plea. This can be beneficial if the evidence against the accused is strong, or if it is in the client’s best interest to avoid a lengthy trial and potentially harsher sentencing.

Court Representation – If the case goes to trial, the defense attorney will represent the accused in court. They will present the defense’s case, cross-examine prosecution witnesses, and make arguments to the judge or jury to persuade them of the client’s innocence or to cast doubt on the prosecution’s case.

Preparing Witnesses – The attorney may also work with witnesses who can provide testimony favorable to the defense. They will prepare these witnesses for court appearances and ensure their testimony aligns with the defense strategy.

Expert Witnesses – In complex cases, the defense attorney may consult with or bring in expert witnesses, such as forensic accountants or technology experts, to provide specialized knowledge or analysis that can support the defense.

Appeals – If the accused person is convicted, the defense attorney can help with the appeals process, challenging the conviction or seeking a reduction in the sentence.
Throughout the entire process, the defense attorney’s primary goal is to protect their client’s rights, ensure a fair trial, and achieve the best possible outcome given the circumstances.

The lawyers at The Attorneys For Freedom Law Firm have been representing people charged with credit card fraud crimes in both state and federal court for over three decades. Our attorneys have the experience and knowledge to provide the best possible defense of these charges.

To schedule a Strategy Session with an experienced credit card fraud crime attorney, contact the Attorneys For Freedom today. We can be reached online at or by calling our Arizona office at 480-755-7110 or our Hawai’i office at 808-647-2423.


Arizona Office Address:
3185 S. Price Rd.
Chandler, AZ 85248
Phone: 480-755-7110
Hawai’i Office Address:
1003 Bishop Street, Suite 1260 Pauahi Tower
Honolulu, Hawai’i 96813
Phone: 808-647-2423
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