Fraud and Identity Theft Rampant in South Florida
South Florida is known for its beautiful beaches and laid-back lifestyle, but it’s also known for its abundance of fraudulent activity, including tax fraud, false Medicare claims and identity theft. The problem is so pronounced that a recent report by Nerdwallet named the sunshine state first in reported occurrences of identity theft.
The Federal Trade Commission reports that there were over 300,000 cases of identify theft in the United States during 2014. The most common types involve fraudulent use or production of government documentation, but credit card and utilities fraud also frequently occur. According to the report, the state of Florida reported 186 identity theft claims per 100,000 residents last year, placing it in the top position for the frequency of identify theft cases.
These statistics led to increased efforts by law enforcement to arrest and prosecute individuals suspected of engaging in ID theft. The Tampa Bay Identity Theft Alliance has only been in existence for a few years, but has already received national recognition for its efforts in this area.
Crimes Involving ID Theft in Florida
The state of Florida has several felony level ID theft laws in the code, which include:
- Criminal Use of Personal Identification Information – It is a crime to fraudulently use, or possess with the intent to use, an individual’s personal identifying information without consent. This can include a name, birth date, or Social Security number.
- This offense is generally classified as a third degree felony. If the ID was used to obtain something with a value of more than $5,000, it rises to a second degree felony. It also rises to a second degree felony if the ID usage involves 10-19 people. For an incident involving 20 or more people, the classification is a first degree felony.
- Criminal Use of Personal Identification to Harass – It is a first degree misdemeanor to use another person’s identifying information without consent for the purpose of harassing the individual.
- Use of a Minor’s Personal Identification – The fraudulent use of a minor’s personal identification is a second-degree felony, even if the accused is the parent or guardian of the minor child.
- Use of a Deceased Person’s Identification Information – Using the ID of a deceased person is classified as a third degree felony.
- It rises to a second degree felony if the ID was used to obtain something with more than $5,000 in value or involves 10-19 individuals.
- It rises to a first degree felony for a value of more than $50,000 and the involvement of 20-29 individuals.
- It rises to a first degree felony, with a mandatory 10-year sentence for a value more than $100,000 and involvement of more than 30 deceased individuals.
An identity theft conviction can result in a substantial amount of jail time, as well as the potential loss of employment and your good reputation. It is important that you secure the services of a knowledgeable attorney early in your case.
If you or a loved is facing identity theft charges, call Pawlowski//Mastrilli Law Group at (813) 803-6518 for a free consultation. Located in Tampa, our experienced attorneys can provide you with an aggressive defense.