On September 9th, Home Depot confirmed that it had been the victim of a huge hacking attack that may have compromised the credit card and financial information of up to 60 million customers. Such an attack “allows thieves to create counterfeit copies of debit and credit cards that can be used to purchase merchandise in big box stores,” according to one security expert. It is just the latest, but apparently the largest, such incident to effect a major retailer and further rattles the confidence of consumers about the security of their credit card information.
While such high-tech and sophisticated means of obtaining stolen credit card information may affect millions of people and be on a grand scale, the crime being committed is in essence no different than that committed by a pickpocket on a city bus who uses the credit cards inside the wallet he pilfered: credit card fraud.
Credit Card Fraud in Indiana is a Serious Felony
Given the high-profile of such scams and the serious damage that credit card fraud can cause consumers, prosecutors take credit card fraud very seriously, and Indiana law imposes harsh penalties for such crimes.
Indiana Criminal Code Section 35-43-5-4 sets forth a number of different acts that constitute criminal credit card fraud, including:
- using a card knowing that it was unlawfully obtained or retained
- using a card knowing that it is forged, revoked, or expired
- using a card that was issued to another person without their consent
- representing, without the consent of the credit cardholder, that the person is the authorized holder of the credit card
- representing that the person is the authorized holder of a credit card when the card has not in fact been issued
- not being the issuer, knowingly or intentionally selling credit card information
- selling or receiving property knowing that it was purchased using stolen credit card information
Years in Prison and Federal Prosecution
An offense under §35-43-5-4 is a Level 6 felony which can result in a sentence of up to 2.5 years in prison.
Additionally, other Indiana criminal statutes can be implicated for certain credit card fraud and identity theft crimes, and they can be prosecuted under numerous federal consumer protection, conspiracy, and mail and wire fraud laws as well, which may involve stiffer penalties than for state charges.
More Than Just Jail Time
The consequences of a conviction for credit card fraud don’t end with jail time. A conviction can affect your ability to obtain employment, get loans, acceptance into educational facilities or training, and leave a stain on your reputation that will be with you for a long, long time. Additionally, many sentences require the offender to pay restitution for his crimes. If you can’t afford to repay the money, the government can seize assets, such as cars, houses, and other personal property.
With so much riding on the outcome of your case, and with credit card cases often being complicated and technical, you need an experienced Indiana criminal defense lawyer who can begin preparing your defense and give you the best chance of avoiding or minimizing the serious consequences of a conviction.
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