Covid Credit Card Fraud Charges & Accusations

As more and more people lose their jobs and other forms of income during the Covid-19 pandemic, they find themselves leaning more and more on their credit cards to make ends meet. Authorities are hyper-aware of the possibility of credit card fraud – leading to possibly bad credit card fraud charges against unsuspecting individuals.

If you find yourself facing credit card fraud charges from tightly wound law enforcement agencies during the pandemic, then remember: 

What is credit card fraud in Maryland?

Basically, credit card fraud is a form of identity theft that occurs when someone uses another’s credit card without their consent.

Credit card fraud can occur with the physical card used to make purchases, or with just the credit card number stolen from unsecured websites and sold for use by others.

Many of credit card fraud cases occur online. Internet and computer use across state-lines for alleged fraudulent activity means that federal as well as state prosecutors may become involved with credit card fraud charges.

5 Possible Credit Card Fraud Criminal Defenses

Those confronting credit card fraud charges need to remember that a charge isn’t a conviction! There’s still an opportunity for their side of the story to be told before a court, and a credit card fraud lawyer can help enforce that right.

Many criminal defenses hinge on the exact charges themselves. For credit card fraud charges to stick, the “fraud” must have been committed by someone whose purpose was to intentionally and willfully trick a person or business out of money, property, or services under false circumstances.

Therefore, possible defenses to criminal credit card fraud charges may include:

  • Mistaken Identity – As most credit card fraud occurs over the internet, a hasty investigation may have led law enforcement to the wrong person, especially if the individual shares a name or other personal information with the top suspect.
  • Misunderstanding – The accused believed they had permission to use the credit card at the time of the “fraudulent” purchase, thus not fulfilling the intent portion of the fraud charge.
  • Lack of Intent – Similarly, legal fraud cannot happen accidentally. While ignorance of the law is not an excuse, those who performed seemingly fraudulent acts without reasonable understanding may be able to have their charges adjusted or dismissed.
  • Insufficient Evidence – The prosecution bears the burden of proof, and legally obtained proof, at that. Therefore, if there is not enough proof, then your credit card lawyer can move to have your case dismissed.
  • Consent – Those with permission to use the card for the disputed charge cannot, by definition, commit fraud. Misunderstandings and faulty memories often lead to mistaken fraud charges!

Of course, these possible defenses are just possible ways a credit card lawyer might approach their client’s defense. Only your lawyer can say for sure which – if any! – would be the best in your specific circumstance.

Credit Card Frauds Punishment & Penalties

Types of Maryland Credit Card Fraud Charges, Fines, & Jail Time

Type of
Credit Card Fraud
Misdemeanor or Felony Maximum Possible Fine Maximum Possible Prison Sentence

Credit Card Theft

  • Taking or receiving another’s credit card without their consent with intent to use or sell fraudulently
  • Keeping a mistakenly sent credit card that you know wasn't meant for you 
  • Buying or selling a credit card not belonging to you.
  • Getting a card you know was gotten illegally
Misdemeanor $500 18 months

Credit Card Counterfeiting

  • Making a credit card and using it as "real" without the issuing institution's permission
  • Signing a card for your use that you know was meant for someone else
Felony $1,000 15 years

Unauthorized Use or Disclosure of Credit Cards

Telling or selling an individual's credit card information without their consent

Felony, with possible Civil penalties

Max $1,000 for Felony criminal charges.

Possible $1,000 civil fines for every instance the convicted party disclosed the credit card number.

15 years

Fraud in Procuring the Issuance of a Credit Card

Knowingly lie or pretend to be someone else to get a credit card
Misdemeanor $500 18 months

Source

Types of Federal Credit Card Fraud Charges, Fines, & Jail Time

Since credit card fraud is a cyber crime, it is possible that the prosecutors alleging credit card fraud will be coming from the federal level – which mean much harsher penalties.

Type of Credit Card Fraud Maximum Possible Fine Maximum Possible Federal Prison Time
Use, attempt or conspiracy to use card in transaction affecting interstate or foreign commerce $10,000 15 years
Transporting, attempting or conspiring to transport card in interstate commerce $10,000 15 years
Use of interstate commerce to sell or transport card $10,000 15 years
Receipt, concealment, etc., of goods obtained by use of card $10,000 15 years
Receipt, concealment, etc., of tickets for interstate or foreign transportation obtained by use of card $10,000 15 years
Furnishing of money, etc., through use of card $10,000 15 years

Source

Even though a charge is not a conviction – and even if you’re never convicted! – official accusations of credit card fraud can upset your life as you know it without a solid criminal defense lawyer experienced in defending both state and federal-level charges.

If you find yourself facing down any type of credit card fraud charges, please reach out to our Firm for a free initial consultation. We’ll listen to your situation, offer possibilities of how a defense may be mounted, and prepare you for the road ahead if you choose to retain JC Law.

Whatever happens, we can help you see a way through the charge to get back to your normal, everyday life.

[CHECKLIST] If you need a criminal defense lawyer in Maryland, learn the 8 questions you must ask before retaining.