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Credit Card Fraud

In California Criminal Rules protect the consumers and individuals against credit card fraud, meaning that, the California Penal Code prohibits any kind of fraudulent conduct that involves credit, debit or access cards of another person without consent of the cardholder. Further, if someone uses/sells/ transfer or conveys any type of account information for it own uses or of another, this person could be charge of credit card fraud. It is important to establish if someone attempts to defraud a credit card of another, this conduct is enough to qualify a crime in California.

Usually, the most common conduct to characterize this type of crime are: using in any kind of way someone credit card without the consent of the credit cardholder, even if the cardholder revoked the uses of it. Also, if someone used the credit card knowing that the balance is less than the purchase price, that could be considered a credit card fraud. Further, using a stolen credit card or any time of account information to purchase, withdraw or receive money, could constitute a credit card fraud.

In order for someone being convicted of credit card fraud, the prosecution must show that the defendant used the credit or debit card in a "fraudulent manner", the defendant had intention to use the card to commit a fraud against the victim.

Thus, if a person, my mistake, uses a credit card of another, he/she could not be guilty of credit card fraud, so long as the prosecution proves that the card was intentionally fraudulent used by the defendant.

California Violations Credit Card Fraud

The California Penal Code establishes specific types of credit card fraud violations and each of it has a different type of punishment. The prohibition is described in the California Penal Code, under the sections 484 (e), 484 (f), 484 (g), 484 (h) and 484 (j), each of the mentioned sections established a different punishment for different criminal conduct, the statute specifically prohibit forging, altering, stealing, counterfeiting or publishing private information of the victim to another person. For a better understanding, each of those sections are going to be explained in the following.

1. Penal Code 484 (e) PC: uses of stolen credit cards

This section of the Penal Code, defines the used of a stolen credit card of another. A person violated the section 484 (e) of the Penal Code if he/she sells, transfers or conveys an access card of another person without consent of the cardholder. Usually, it does not matter whether a person actually commits a credit card fraud, so long a person had intent to commit the crime.

Example: Marie a college student found on the floor a credit card of Marissa. Marie did not know who was Marissa, but she sold the credit card for 200 dollars for a drug dealer that she knew.

In this case, Marie could be guilty of credit card fraud, even though she did not use, the conduct of sell an account information is enough to constitute the crime under the section 484 e.

Example: Daniel was stopped and frisked by the police, since someone made a report that Daniel just had robbed a bank. On Daniel pocket there was different credit cards of different people. Even though, the cardholders had already cancelled the card, Daniel could be guilty of credit card fraud.

California Courts had held that does not matter if the information of access card account has not been used, or that the account of an consumer actually be charged or billed, a person could be guilty just with has possession of a credit card of another.

1.2 Punishment

The offense of credit card fraud can be charged as either misdemeanor or a felony, depends on the facts of the conduct. That is called wobbler in California, the prosecution has an option to charge the defendant with both crimes. Thus, the misdemeanor is punishable “by a fine not exceeding tone thousand dollars ($1,000), or by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment.”
Thus, a felony credit card fraud is punishable by a fine not exceeding 10 thousand dollars ($10,000) or by imprisonment in county jail not from sixteen (16) months to three (3) years, or probation up to a year in a county jail, or the fine, imprisonment and probation.

However, if the defendant acquired or just had possession of a credit card with intent to commit a fraud, but the defendant did not put actions to commit the crime, this conduct is going to be considered a petty theft under California rules, in which is punishable “by a fine not exceeding tone thousand dollars ($1,000), or by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding six months, or by both that fine and imprisonment.”

2. Penal Code 484(f) PC: forging credit card information

Under the section 484 (f) established the conduct of design, alters, makes or embosses a counterfeit a fake card or utter or attempt to use a counterfeit access card without the cardholder's consent for your own benefit. Basically, if a person altered a credit card, created a fake credit card, or signed someone's name involving a credit card without authorization, he/she could be guilty of forging a credit card information. This violation is punished as California's forgery, Penal Code 470 PC.

2.2.Punishment:

The offense of credit card fraud can be charged as either misdemeanor or a felony, depends on the facts of the conduct. That is called wobbler in California, the prosecution has an option to charge the defendant with both crimes. Thus, the misdemeanor is punishable “by a fine not exceeding tone thousand dollars ($1,000), or by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment.” Thus, a felony credit card fraud is punishable by a fine not exceeding 10 thousand dollars ($10,000) or by imprisonment in county jail not from sixteen (16) months to three (3) years, or probation up to a year in a county jail, or the fine, imprisonment and probation.

3. Penal Code 484 (g) PC: fraudulent use of an access card or account information

Under the section 484 (g) the rules are state in the following manner: "484g. Every person who, with the intent to defraud, (a) uses, for the purpose of obtaining money, goods, services, or anything else of value, an access card or access card account information that has been altered, obtained, or retained in violation of Section 484e or 484f, or an access card which he or she knows is forged, expired, or revoked, or (b) obtains money, goods, services, or anything else of value by representing without the consent of the cardholder that he or she is the holder of an access card and the card has not in fact been issued, is guilty of theft. If the value of all money, goods, services, and other things of value obtained in violation of this section exceeds nine hundred fifty dollars ($950) in any consecutive six-month period, then the same shall constitute grand theft."

So, a person violated this section when, with intention and knowledge, stolen, altered, counterfeit, forged another's credit card information to obtain money, goods, services or anything with value. The punishment applicable for this type of fraud, it is going to depend on the value of the item received. For instance, if the amount gained exceed $950 in any consecutive six month period, the violation shall constitute a grand theft. However, if the value received from the unlawful conduct is less than $950, the offense is going to be punished as petty theft.

4. Penal Code 484(h) PC: retailer credit card fraud

The section 484 (h) defined a credit card fraud when the retailer is involved in the fraud. The retailer commits a credit card fraud when he/she furnishes money, goods, services or anything else of value upon presentation of credit card obtained or retained by forged, expired, or revoked. In this scenario, the retailer has knowledge of the crime and used to gain an economic advantage, this person could be punishment with grand theft. Also, constitute a grand theft if a retailer presented a false evidence of a transaction in order for payment a sale slip.

The punishment applicable for this type of fraud, it is going to depend on the value of the item received. For instance, if the amount gained exceed $950 in any consecutive six months’ period, the violation shall constitute a grand theft. However, if the value received from the unlawful conduct is less than $950, the offense is going to be punished as petty theft.

5. Penal Code 484(i) PC: counterfeiting credit cards

This section established three different conducts of credit card fraud, with different penalties. The section 484(i) (a) establish that “every person who possesses an incomplete access card, with intent to complete it without the consent of the issuer, is guilty of a misdemeanor.”

However, the Penal Code defined that counterfeiting credit card could be punished as a forgery under California rules. If someone has intention to “defraud, makes, alters, varies, changes or modifies a credit card or access card information, including the encoded in a magnetic stripe, could be charged as a forgery.
Finally the letter (c) defined the offense of manufactured, possessed, designed counterfeit credit cards or possessing equipment to traffic or make counterfeit credit cards, could be punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year, or by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170.

6. Penal Code 484(j) PC: publishing credit card information

This Penal Code prohibits a person to publish any type of information about the access account, including credit or debit card, personal identification number, computer password or any information about bank account, with intention to defraud another person. Also, the statute considered entities as victim out of credit card fraud. Furthermore, the meaning of publish is when a person communicates the information orally, on a computer or in any kind of writing.

Example: One day, Gabe noticed that someone had used his credit card to purchaser a video on demand account. He investigated more and he realized that his sister gave his credit card information to their cousin to buy a Netflix account, without Gabe's consent.

Gabe’s sister could be charged of credit card fraud, since she disclose her brother’s account information the cousin. To constitute this crime, the only element necessary is inform another person about the bank account information.

The punishment for this crime is a misdemeanor is punishable “by a fine not exceeding tone thousand dollars ($1,000), or by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment.”

Legal Defenses

The offense of credit card fraud could be charged as either misdemeanor or a felony, depends on the facts of the defendant's conduct. That is called wobbler in California, the prosecution has an option to charge the defendant with both crimes. Usually, if a person is convicted with this type of crime, the offense is going to be on the defendant’s criminal records. If you are looking for a job and the employer does a criminal background check and there is an offense register, it is likely that the employer won't hire someone with a misdemeanor or felony background. If you have been charged with credit card fraud, you should promptly look for a Lawyer. San Diego Criminal Attorney has a great deal of success defending our clients and we can help you build legal defenses that it could be used to contest these types of charges. If you would like more information, please contact our successful staff to help you with your legal problems.

To contest the charges of this offense, San Diego Criminal Attorney would be able to use the following legal defenses:

  • The defendant did not have intention to commit any fraud.
  • Lack of evidence to prove the offense.
  • Wrongfully accused.

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