Federal Crime of Identity Theft – 18 U.S.C § 1028
When it comes to these federal identity theft cases, the feds will typically get involved when somebody is taking large dollar amounts or has multiple identifications and is using those to commit other crimes. It really has to do with the stealing of somebody else's information via a computer and using that information to commit a crime or using that information to obtain goods or services.
Identity theft occurs when a person uses someone else's identity for fraudulent purposes, such as to file fake tax returns, take out credit cards or loans with banks, run scams, or carry out any other type of illegal activity that they do not want the federal government to be able to trace back to them.
Identity theft in Los Angeles has increased tremendously and the government has taken a very serious stance on the issue. The incidences of ID theft increased altering the lives of 11 million Americans and the numbers continue to go increase.
The government is well aware of the identity theft epidemic and is taking the problem very seriously. Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personally identifying information, like your name, Social Security number, PIN numbers, or credit card number, without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes.
Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act In October 1998, Congress passed the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998 (Identity Theft Act) to address the problem of identity theft. Specifically, the Act amended 18 U.S.C. § 1028 to make it a federal crime when anyone:
- 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.
In most instances, a conviction for identity theft carries a maximum penalty of 15 years imprisonment, a fine and forfeiture of any personal property used or intended to be used to commit a crime. Prosecutors can make Identity theft charges more severe, especially if the identity theft takes place along with another felony.
If the other felony carries a heavier sentence than does the ID theft charge, the more severe of the two charges can be used against the suspect. Schemes to commit Identity theft or fraud may also involve violations of other statues such as credit card fraud, computer fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, or social security fraud. Each of these federal offenses is a felony and carries substantial penalties, in some cases as high as 30 years in prison, fines, and criminal forfeiture.
Amount of Financial Loss
Normally, the feds are not going to get involved with a small identity theft case. They're going to get involved with there's sophistication; where's there's complexity and there's a lot of money being taken in an identity theft-related scheme. Usually I'm seeing multiple things going on in these identity theft-related offenses where people are stealing information.
For example, somebody can put a device in a gas station and when a person puts a credit card in there, all of the information is captured. Twenty people use that same gas pump and now the identity theft person comes and takes the device. Now they have all the credit card information of multiple people. Then they get an embosser and they emboss a bunch of credit cards and get people to go shop those credit cards and gain a bunch of goods and merchandise.
That's a scenario where the federal government is going to get involved because in order to track the identity theft, there's a bunch of different things that have to happen.
They have to get the FBI involved. They have to use computer information. So, that's more sophisticated and involves probably a much larger dollar amount than somebody just going into a store with a fake I.D. or fake credit card and getting a small amount of merchandise. That's going to be handled by the state government.
Federal Sentencing Guidelines
Another thing that's going on in these identity theft cases at the federal level is you've got the federal sentencing guidelines and you have a base defense level that's going to be used for an identity theft-related offense, and then you have enhancements — or aggravated factors that apply — and that's going to add additional points to somebody's overall sentencing scheme which translates to more time in federal custody.
So, if you or a loved one has one of these identity theft cases and it involves multiple people — that's another thing I see all the time in these federal prosecutions — it's not usually just one person; it's multiple people who are charged.
You're going to need a federal criminal defense attorney who is familiar with identity theft cases, who knows how to defend them and who knows how to mitigate them and negotiate them.
The feds usually take their time in their investigation. If they indict somebody for a white collar crime identity theft case, they usually have the goods on them.
A lot of times people go into banks to commit identity theft which obviously is not very smart because banks have sophisticated video systems and they've got good investigators within the banks who can check these things out and get the federal government involved. The FBI then comes in and starts to do their investigation.
Contact our Federal Criminal Attorneys
So, you're going to need an attorney who has been down this road before and has had success in a federal identity case.
Success translates to whatever the situation is. If it's a situation where they've got the goods on you so-to-speak, then your federal criminal defense attorney would be successful if they could mitigate the damage to you — if they could limit the amount of custody time that you're looking at.
When you're talking about Section 1028 of the United States Code, you're also talking about mandatory minimums. There's a two year mandatory minimum for a lot of these crimes depending on the loss amount and what is involved in the case.
So, if you want to try to avoid that mandatory minimum, then you're obviously going to want to get a federal criminal defense attorney who can maneuver things and angle things in order to get you the best result in an identity theft-related situation.
Pick up the phone. Make the phone call. We can talk about your situation and see what can be done to help you get through this federal investigation. If you or a loved one has been charged with identity theft, call the Hedding Law Firm for a free case. We are here to help.