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Credit card fraud arrests in south florida increasing

Posted on December 13, 2010 12:00 AM EST

South Florida is becoming one the leading regions of credit card fraud in the country. Arrests for credit card fraud are occurring on a daily basis from Miami-Dade to Hillsborough County. Last week, detectives in Lee County stopped a vehicle in Fort Myers, Florida for speeding and various other traffic infractions. Police reports indicate that both occupants of the vehicle appeared nervous. The driver allegedly consented to the search of the vehicle. The search uncovered 15 fraudulent credit cards and two fake driver's licenses that matched the names on the fake credit cards. Once the credit cards were discovered, the driver began to struggle with the investigating officer and was placed under arrest. The driver was arrested for charges including trafficking in fraudulent credit cards, possession of counterfeit credit cards, possession of a fraudulent diver's license, identity theft, and resisting an officer without violence.

Any Miami criminal defense attorney will tell you to never consent to the search of your vehicle. Just because a person is stopped for committing a traffic infraction, that does not mean that law enforcement has the right to search a vehicle. Every search and seizure requires a warrant with a few exceptions. Most notably are the consent to search and the automobile exception. For a consent to search to be valid, a person with standing must freely and voluntarily consent to a search. For the automobile exception to apply, the officer must have probable cause to believe that a vehicle contains unlawful contraband. In the event a person is stopped for a traffic infraction, police have two options when attempting to gain access to an automobile. In the event an officer cannot obtain consent, he or she can request a K-9 units to establish probable cause to search the vehicle. In drug possession cases, specially trained narcotics K-9 can be called to the scene of the stop. If the K-9 alerts to a vehicle, the officer will have the requisite PC to conduct a search. However, there is no way a K-9 can alert to fake or stolen credit cards, therefore, the only way an officer can obtain access to the vehicle is by consent. If the defendant in this case would have refused to consent to the search of the vehicle, the police would not have had a basis to conduct the search.

To prove the charge of fraudulent use of a credit card, the prosecutor must establish that a person with the intent to defraud an issuer possessed or retained a credit card with the knowledge that it is fraudulent. The charge itself is a third degree felony punishable up to five years in prison. A five year sentence will apply to each fraudulent card in a person's possession. Trafficking in fraudulent credit cards requires that a person knowingly possess 10 or more fraudulent credit cards. This offense is a second degree felony punishable up to 15 years in prison. Identity theft is the most serious offense that can be charged in cases dealing with fraudulent credit cards. Anyone who wilfully and without authorization fraudulently uses the personal identification of another person with out obtaining consent is guilty of a first degree felony punishable up to 30 years in prison. Anyone found guilty of identity theft involving more than 30 victims is facing a 10 year minimum mandatory prison sentence.

Prosecutors, both in the state in federal criminal justice systems take all forms of credit card fraud very seriously due to the victim impact. Anyone arrested for possession of fraudulent credit cards, trafficking in fraudulent credit cards, any fraudulent credit card offense or identity theft should immediately contact a criminal defense law firm to defend the charges as convictions for these types of offenses can end in long prison sentences and hefty fines.

Woman Arrested After Counterfeit Credit Cards Seized in I-75 Traffic Stop, News-Press.com, December 9, 2010.
Categories: Fraud