As more commerce is conducted electronically, many States have passed laws specifically targeting credit card fraud. Florida is no exception. Local authorities are aggressively pursuing a variety of Florida credit fraud schemes, including mortgage fraud, health care fraud, and identity theft.
Before the beginning of the college football season, several star University of Florida players were suspended as the university investigated alleged misconduct. The status of the investigation changed this week after news outlets reported that nine members of the Gators team face at least 62 potential felony charges of credit card fraud.
The sworn complaint alleged that the players used borrowed or stolen credit cards in order to purchase electronics, some which were later resold on a secondary market. The alleged scheme involved the players adding money to their bookstore debit accounts and then using the extra money to make additional purchases. Moreover, the sworn complaint alleged that a stolen credit card was used to pay for rent in a Gainesville apartment complex.
Credit card fraud is a crime that has received increased attention from the Florida legislature and as a result has changed in recent years. Florida Statute Section 817.61 criminalizes the fraudulent use of credit cards. As a specific intent crime, the prosecution must show that a person accused of credit card fraud intentionally used a credit card obtained through illicit means to obtain money, goods, services, or anything else of value. The law also includes a timing component. For instance, if a person, in a six-month period, commits credit card fraud two or fewer times or uses the card for anything valued at less than $100, such a person is eligible for misdemeanor larceny. However, if a person, in a six-month period, commits credit card fraud more than two times or uses such a card for anything valued at $100 or more, the person is eligible for felony grand larceny.
As mentioned above, the Florida law requires an intent to defraud a merchant at the time of a transaction. There are many potential defenses to this sort of crime. For instance, if a person acknowledges to a merchant that they are not the cardholder but that they intend to pay the owner of the credit card back, this might serve as a strong defense to credit card fraud under Florida law.
Time is of the essence in defending a credit card fraud or other fraud case. By obtaining the services of a knowledgeable criminal attorney like Will Hanlon at Hanlon Law early in the process, or even before an arrest or charge, you can increase the chances of successfully defending yourself in court. For an appointment to discuss a criminal matter arising in St. Petersburg, call us now at 727-897-5413 or contact us online.
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