Federal Investigators In Florida Crackdown on Identify Theft Crimes
Florida federal agents recently arrested 42 individuals in South Florida in connection with numerous alleged identity theft crimes. Federal agents raided a Miami Gardens residence and apparently found stolen identities of more than 1,000 people, including information relating to birth dates and Social Security numbers. Federal authorities have charged the individuals with conspiring to use stolen IDs for submitting false federal income tax return, seeking false state tax refunds, and filing fraudulent unemployment claims in Florida.
Identify theft crimes in South Florida and throughout the state appear to be a growing concern. According to information from the Federal Trade Commission, Florida ranks number one in the country for identity theft complaints. Furthermore, the identify theft rate in South Florida is twice the rate of the rest of Florida. A special agent for the IRS has commented that the identify theft problem in South Florida has spread from Miami-Dade and Broward Counties into Palm Beach County. Importantly, since 2010, federal and state investigators have been working to crackdown on identify theft crimes throughout the state and have been arresting numerous individuals.
Federal and State Identity Theft Laws
There are both federal and state laws governing identity theft crimes. For example, under the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998, it is a federal crime when someone “knowingly transfers or uses, without lawful authority, a means of identification of another person with the intent to commit, or to aid or abet, any unlawful activity that constitutes a violation of federal law, or that constitutes a felony under any applicable state or local law.” The use of someone else’s name or cellular telephone electronic serial, credit card, or Social Security number is considered a “means of identification.” A violation of the act carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a fine and forfeiture of any personal property used or intended to be used to commit the crime.
Florida also has passed several laws criminalizing various types of identity theft. Under Florida’s criminal use of personal identification information statute, it is a third-degree felony for a person to willfully and without authorization fraudulently use or possess with intent to fraudulently use personal identification information concerning an individual without first obtaining that individual’s consent. The criminal penalties for fraudulently using another’s personal identification information without consent increase when the injury or fraud perpetrated is above a certain value. The penalties also increase if the person fraudulently uses the personal identification information of a minimum number of people. For example, there is a mandatory minimum 10-year prison sentence for use of the personal identification information of 30 or more people without their consent.
Contact an Experienced South Florida White Collar Criminal Defense Attorney
Identify theft laws carry significant criminal penalties, including imprisonment and fines. If you have been charged with an identity theft crime, it is important to have an experienced Florida criminal defense attorney on your side. At Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A., we employ a team of Florida white collar criminal defense attorneys who have significant experience helping defendants charged with identity theft crimes. Call today for help.