White-Collar Fugitives Hiding Out in Cuba
U.S. Marshals from South Florida are seeking the extradition of a handful of fugitives who have committed white-collar crimes in Florida, before fleeing to Cuba. Because relations with Cuban law enforcement agencies are still nonexistent, despite pushes from the Obama administration to normalize relations, it is practically impossible for Florida law enforcement to arrest suspects who they believe have violated federal law.
One of the highest-profile fugitives who has been arrested by Cuban police but not returned to the U.S. is suspected of large-scale credit card fraud. Gilberto Martinez was recently indicted on charges of identity theft and credit-card counterfeiting, but he had already left to Cuba and cannot yet be brought to trial. The theft at issue allegedly totaled over $150,000, and involved using stolen and fraudulent credit cards to buy electronics and gift cards from stores across southern and central Florida.
Credit Card Fraud Under U.S. Federal Law
In its simplest form, credit card fraud under U.S. law involves using, attempting to use, or conspiring to use “any counterfeit, fictitious, altered, forged, lost, stolen, or fraudulently obtained credit card” in order to get anything of value, including money, good, or services. If the value of the goods obtained adds up to more than $1,000 within a year, you can face a punishment of up to 10 years in federal prison, a fine of $10,000, or both.
Credit Card Fraud Under Florida State Law
Under Florida’s State Credit Card Crime Act, an offense that results in theft of less than $100 worth of goods or services will be charged as a first degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in county jail, a $1,000 fine, or both. For offenses involving amounts over $100, credit card fraud can be charged as a third degree felony, which can carry a sentence of up to 5 years in state prison, a $5,000 fine, or both.
The number of transgressions also makes a difference: one or two offenses will carry misdemeanor charges, while three or more will take an offense to the felony level.
Many Forms of Fraud
The most common forms of credit card fraud can be classified as either “card present” schemes, or “card not present” schemes. As its name suggests, card present crimes involve the physical stealing of a credit card belonging to someone else. On the other hand, card not present crimes do not involve physical possession of a credit card, and can encompass a wide range of activities, including recording card numbers to use over the phone or online, using skimming devices or phishing websites. Because card not present schemes do not require physical possession of a credit card, they can be much more difficult for victims and law enforcement to discover.
Fraud Defense Attorney
An arrest or conviction for a white collar crime can lead to exorbitant monetary fines and lengthy prison sentences. In addition, the stain on your reputation can have far-reaching negative impacts. If you have been arrested or investigated for credit card fraud, contact the law office of Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. for counsel from an experienced Florida criminal defense attorney. Our team will defend you with the dedication your case deserves.