Few people in Ohio and across the country do not carry at least one credit card in their wallets. Credit cards are the go-to form of payment for many, especially those buying big-ticket items like appliances. The convenience and ease of using credit cards make them popular and even dangerous for those who may have trouble controlling their spending habits.
Credit cards are also attractive to fraudsters, and some have developed sophisticated ways to access the information necessary to obtain credit. If you are under investigation for credit card fraud, you have reason to be concerned, especially if authorities suspect you of felony offenses. Securing legal counsel may be in your best interests.
What acts are considered fraud?
When authorities speak of fraud involving credit cards, they mean more than stealing a card from your parents and going on a shopping spree. However, some examples of fraud are similar to this scenario. While taking another person’s wallet and using the credit cards inside to obtain cash or goods is one simple form of fraud, other examples involve obtaining the numbers on people’s credit accounts. Someone could do this by accessing accounts that users leave unsecured or using skimming devices at ATMs and gas pumps.
More elaborate schemes may have numerous people working to secure social security numbers and applying for multiple credit cards at once. However, it is not necessarily the level of technology authorities are considering when they investigate you for credit card fraud. What determines the seriousness of the charges and the penalties you may face is the value of the goods acquired by fraudulent credit card use.
What are the penalties for fraud?
A felony count for credit card fraud means Ohio authorities believe you charged more than a certain dollar amount worth of merchandise or cash. This does not necessarily mean they think you charged it all at once or for one purchase, but perhaps over the course of time, you allegedly accumulated purchases totaling more than the limit for misdemeanor charges.
Whether authorities accuse you of a felony or misdemeanor makes a difference when considering the penalties. A conviction for a misdemeanor may result in a sentence in county jail whereas a felony conviction may mean as much as 15 years in a federal prison. You may also expect to pay severe fines. Facing these possibilities with the assistance of an experienced legal professional may allow for the construction of a sound defense strategy.