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South florida gangs committing identity theft

Posted on February 23, 2010 3:00 AM EST

Scam artists and fraudsters used to be the prime suspects in one of today's most popular crimes. With the coming age of the credit card, identity theft cases are boasting heavy numbers. Identity theft occurs when an individual or a group of individuals illegally obtain another individual's personal information with the intent to steal goods or services. The problem of identity theft has even caused the federal legislature to enact new laws in an effort to combat the problem. A new law called aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory two year prison sentence in the federal criminal system. If you or someone you know is being investigated for or has been arrested for identity theft or aggravated identity theft, immediately contact a Miami criminal attorney with experience in defending these types of cases both in federal and state court.

A recent investigation revealed that South Florida gangs are becoming a part of the growing wave of identity theft cases. A Fort Lauderdale investigation called "Operation Smoking Gun" targeted violent street gangs with the intent to get guns and drugs off of the streets. While marijuana trafficking, cocaine trafficking and ecstasy trafficking, as well as, a plethora of gun related charges were the target of the investigation, searches conducted by authorities revealed $5,000.00 in counterfeit cash and more than 300 names related to identity theft. The operation netted more than 300 firearms, four kilograms of cocaine, 5 kilograms of marijuana, more than 7,500 ecstasy pills and more than 6,000 prescription pills, but to the surprise of investigators, violent gang are now becoming involved in identity theft.

The United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida was quoted as saying, "Operation Smoking Gun didn't start out looking for identity theft; it initially focused on rounding up gang members involved in guns and drugs. I think ii speaks to the evolution of crime in society today." Federal investigators believe that gang members are able to become involved in identity theft in large part to how people use their credit cards today. Fast food restaurants have become a large part of the problem because of the large volume of credit card transactions that occur in those locations. Card are secretly swiped and recorded by employees and the stolen data is typically sold of $5 to $10 per identity.

If you or anyone you know is contacted by the police regarding identity theft, contact a criminal defense firm and get legal advice and representation from a person experienced in these matters. Law enforcement will want you to give a statement regarding your alleged involvement in identity theft. Remember, anything you tell law enforcement can and will be used against you in court. Do not consent to the search of your home car or person. Make the police do their job and obtain a search warrant. Possession or the use of stolen credit cards or possession or use of fraudulent credit cards will be construed as identity theft. If investigators and prosecutors are motivated to send someone to prison, the charges of, racketeering and wire fraud may be found on an information or indictment as well.

Broward Sting Shows Gangs are Moving to Identity Theft, NBC Miami.com, February 22, 2010.
Categories: Gangs