The crime of identity theft has become familiar to most Americans in recent years. Identity theft charges have serious consequences for those who are convicted in Florida. A conviction can result in a prison sentence, as well as an order to pay restitution. A conviction will also result in a criminal record, which can have a serious future impact on one’s ability to get a job or even find a place to live.

Recently an Orlando man was arrested on fraud and money laundering charges in connection with an alleged identity theft scheme that targeted credit card companies. According to authorities, the man allegedly stole identity information of about ten businesses and established online merchant accounts. He also allegedly stole the identity information of a number of individuals. He allegedly set up prepaid credit cards in their names, and then processed fake merchandise returns using the fake merchant accounts.

The credit card companies processed the fake returns and put money on the cards, thinking they were legitimate refunds. The man would allegedly then withdraw the funds from an ATM or transfer the money to another account. Investigators apparently do not believe the man was acting alone; they say more arrests could be forthcoming.

When a person is accused of online crimes, one of the first issues for defense counsel to explore is whether the accused is the person who actually acquired and kept the personal information involved. In some cases more than one person may have had access to the computer that was allegedly used to commit the fraud. It is also possible that a sophisticated thief used the accused’s personal information to make it appear the accused was the one stealing the alleged victims’ information.

Source: WFTV.com, “Orlando man arrested in credit card scheme,” Feb. 15, 2014

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