As more and more people conduct business and personal activities online, more and more unscrupulous people are committing identity theft and other internet crimes – and the easier it is to commit the crimes. One factor that has led to the increase in Ventura residents becoming victims of identity theft is the increase the number of illegal immigrants who pay someone to steal a victim’s social security number and other personal information so the immigrant can use that information for work or other purposes.
Federal and state governments have increased their efforts to identify those who have committed identity theft because of the immigration explosion, among other issues such as hackers and fake e-commerce businesses stealing information.
What is identity theft?
People steal identities of others in order to use the information as a way to obtain property, cash, benefits, services, credit, and other things. Unfortunately, the only thing the prosecutor needs to prove identity theft is that the person who stole the identity actually intended to steal it, without regard to the possibility that the person was not acting maliciously or did not intend to.
Say, for example, you were to hack some random person’s Facebook account and that after doing so you write and post a status update that is malicious about the person. If you are caught, you could be charged with Identity Theft.
Essentially, when people commit identity theft, they re staling such information as:
- Social security numbers or other tax ID
- Bank account, debit card and pin numbers
- Birth, Death or marriage certificates
- Checking and savings account information
- Passport, license or valid Visa information
- School or employee identification cards
And any other item that contains a the victim’s personal information including (but not limited to) date of birth, first and last names, sometimes middle names, physical address, email and password, and even the phone number of a person. Some of the reasons a person would commit identity theft can include:
- Applying for a car loan in another person’s name
- Applying for a mortgage in another person’s name
- Applying for or opening charge or credit card accounts
- Receiving welfare benefits in another person’s name
- Applying for life insurance in another person’s name
- Forging a check signature to access someone else’s money
- Giving another person’s information to police if pulled over or arrested
- Making purchases with the newly acquired credit card
- Selling the home that was mortgaged
Other common identity theft scams include email fraud, phishing, hacking, and similar attempts at stealing a person’s identity using online tactics.
Stolen Social Security Numbers and Related identity Theft Charges
When law enforcement arrests someone for identity theft, they often press other charges against them as well. Some of the related and associated charges can include (but are not limited to) :
- Credit card fraud
- Theft of social security numbers
- Mail fraud
- Bank fraud
- Check fraud
Often those charged with the above crimes were investigated and are accused of committing a variety of treated crimes such as
- Money Laundering
- Stealing and using social security numbers
- Stealing and using credit cards or debit pin numbers
- Using stolen info to take out a loan, credit card, or file taxes
While these are indeed serious crimes in Ventura, you do have a few defense options available at your disposal. If, for example, you did not know you were committing a crime, or you did not intend to do illegal things with the information you had, or if your accuser has filed a false accusation against you, you might have a way defend yourself and avoid charges.
What are the penalties for identity theft?
Because prosecutors can charge you with identity theft as a felony or misdemeanor, the penalties and sentencing terms can vary from case to case based on the defendant’s record and the circumstances surrounding the specific case.
Felonies and misdemeanor convictions can result n the following penalties:
- If you are convicted for felony identity theft on the state level, you could face a 3-year state prison sentence. You also face a fine of $ 10,000.
- If you are convicted of misdemeanor identity theft on the state level, then you could face a one-year county prison sentence and have to pay up to $1,000,
- If you are convicted of felony identity theft on the federal level, you could face a 30-year prison sentence in a federal prison in addition having to pay extremely harsh fines.
Fighting Identity Theft Charges
One of the biggest issues involving identity theft charges is that the nature of the crime often results in the prosecutor filing additional charges alongside the identity theft charges. For example:
- A person who uses email to steal the identity of someone could be charged with both identity theft and internet crimes.
- A person who uses the postal mail to apply for a credit card using stolen identity information could be charged with identity theft, fraud, and federal mail fraud.
- A person who uses a stolen bank account to pay for something such as furniture cold be charged with grand theft, identity theft, and other crimes
Another issue regarding identity theft is that in cases where a stolen account is used, such as a bank account or a credit card account, the person charged with one crime is charged with all instances of that crime connected with the stolen information.
In other words, if a person uses a stolen credit card to pay for something, then someone else uses that same information to pay for something else, prosecutors will often charge the first person who used the information with a count for each separate incident, whether that person is connected to the separate incidents or not.
How can I hire a Ventura identity theft attorney?
If you are facing identity theft charges, or related charges in Ventura, then you will want to find an attorney who knows how to defend you against all the charges in question, and on any level.
Oftentimes in cases of identity theft, evidence against my client is inconsistent, which opens the door to challenge the evidence. I do this by hiring experts I each area of evidence against you such as computer experts, handwriting experts, forensic accountants, video experts and other experts who understand the evidence and will testify on your behalf.
On the other hand, if the prosecution’s evidence against my client is substantial, I will use my knowledge of the evidence and expert testimony to reach the best possible deal for my client and get the charges or the sentencing reduced, possibly in exchange for testimony against other involved persons.
Providing this type of intricate defense against possibly multiple charges requires the services of an attorney who has the experiences and resources for an in-depth investigation and challenges the evidence. If you hire me as your attorney, I will review you case in confidence and use my every resource and my 20 plus years of criminal defense experience to fight the charges, challenge the evidence – or the lack thereof, and work with you to come up with the best defense possible.