Examples and Consequences of Credit Card Fraud in Wisconsin
Credit card fraud in Wisconsin is not always the splashy, large-scale schemes that make the news. It can, and often is, committed on a small scale, by average people. Some of them may not even be aware that they are committing fraud.
What Is Credit Card Fraud?
We use credit and debit cards every day in Wisconsin. Although convenient, this also opens the door to fraudulent activity of which you may be a victim or an unknowing perpetrator. Simply put, credit card fraud happens when a person uses a credit or debit card to obtain money or property without authorization from the card owner or issuer.
Some card numbers are stolen from sites online. Some cards are found lying on the ground. The use of cards in either situation is considered fraud in Wisconsin.
Types of Credit Card Fraud
- Fraud by False Statements. You can be charged with this type of fraud if you lie on a credit card application and receive a line of credit that you would not have been eligible for had you been truthful. Lying is not limited to income discrepancies. If you are untruthful about your name, address, social security number, or income, it all counts as fraud. This crime is especially serious and severely punished if you use someone else’s name or information to secure credit.
- Fraud by Possessing or Stealing Another Person’s Card. Unsurprisingly, using a stolen credit card counts as fraud, as does intending to sell the card to another person for their use. You may even be charged with fraud if you use another person’s card without permission, even if you didn’t steal it. In Wisconsin, it is illegal to:
- Take a card from another person who did not provide consent.
- Receive a card knowing it was stolen.
- Receive a stolen card with the intent to sell it.
- Receive a lost or misdelivered card and use it, sell it, or gift it.
- Sell a credit card.
- Buy a credit card from anyone who isn’t the card issuer.
- Receive a credit card as security for a debt with the intent to defraud the owner or issuer.
- Fraud by Forgery. Using or possessing credit or debit cards that have been altered or are counterfeit is considered fraud by forgery. It is also illegal to be the creator of these cards.
- Fraudulent Use of Cards. You may be charged with credit card fraud on how the card is used and the repercussions can be just as serious as other types of credit fraud. It is illegal to:
- Knowingly use an expired or revoked credit card.
- Knowingly attempt to defraud someone by using your own credit card or allowing another to do so.
- Knowingly use a fake or stolen card at an ATM machine.
- Intercept or acquire information, such as through a skimming machine, at an ATM with the intent to use that information for fraudulent purposes.
- Receive money or valuable goods through someone else’s fraudulent ATM use.
- Provide goods to someone else, knowing that the card being used is stolen or falsified.
- Be in possession of an incomplete card, such as one that is missing certain imprints, with the intent to finish it without the card issuer’s knowledge.
Credit Card Fraud Penalties in Wisconsin
- Class A Misdemeanor for credit card theft, possession of falsified credit cards, or illegally using a credit card to buy less than $2,500 worth of property within a 6-month period. A conviction carries with it a prison sentence of up to 9 months as well as fines of up to $10,000.
- Class I Felony for obtaining between $2,500 and $5,000 worth of property within a 6-month period by using counterfeit credit cards or cards that do not belong to the user. Felony convictions are extremely serious and life-changing. A Class I conviction includes prison for as long as 3 and a half years and fines up to $10,000.
- Class H Felony for using fake or stolen credit cards to obtain between $5,000 and $10,000 worth of property in a 6-month period. If convicted, penalties include up to 6 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000.
- Class G Felony for obtaining more than $10,000 worth of property in a 6-month period by using fraudulent or stolen credit cards. A conviction may include a prison sentence of up to 10 years and fines up to $25,000.
In most cases, people who are convicted of credit card fraud in Wisconsin will also have to pay restitution as part of their sentence. Restitution may include paying back the card owner or issuer the amount of money they stole and/or returning the property that was obtained.
In many cases, credit card fraud can be defended. The following legal strategies help get charges reduced or dropped in Wisconsin:
- Lack of Intent. The prosecution must prove the defendant had the intent to defraud to secure a conviction. If the defense attorney can make the case that the defendant had no intent to defraud, the case may fall apart.
- Reasonable Belief of Permission. The prosecution must prove that the defendant knew they were not supposed to be using the card. If the defense can argue that the circumstances did not fit those criteria, the charges may fail to stick. One example of this is when a card is provided for use in emergencies only. If the defendant can prove the situation in which it was used was an emergency, there is no case.
Credit card fraud can be committed unknowingly and in many different ways. If you have been accused of credit card fraud, contact the Wisconsin criminal defense attorneys at Eisenberg Law Offices for representation. We can help you fight the charges by ensuring all information presented is accurate and by presenting a strong and effective defense.
Discuss your situation in a free and confidential consultation by calling 608-256-8356 or emailing email@example.com.