What is International Credit Card Fraud?
The United States government takes international credit card fraud seriously and will pursue aggressive legal action against individuals who are believed to have been involved in credit card fraud schemes. In 2013, the FBI reported that 10 individuals faced a 25 count indictment based on one of the largest international credit card fraud schemes ever charged by the U.S. Justice Department.
When the government suspects credit card fraud, federal agencies cooperate to identify defendants and uncover evidence of the alleged scheme. The Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force was established to “wage an aggressive, coordinated, and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes.” There are more than 20 federal agencies; 94 U.S. Attorneys’ offices, and state and local partners that have come together in the broadest coalition ever assembled to combat credit card fraud.
Those who are charged can be prosecuted by the Economics Crimes Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s office and can face numerous criminal charges including bank fraud, conspiracy, wire fraud, identity fraud, and charges under the 1984 Credit Card Fraud Act.
Each offense could carry prison time, so it is important to defend vigorously against the charges you face. A New York criminal defense lawyer can help raise defenses to credit card fraud charges.
International Credit Card Fraud Schemes
International credit card fraud has become an increasingly common crime thanks to the rise of the Internet, which makes it simple for people worldwide to participate in schemes to obtain or use credit without proper authorization.
Examples of international credit card fraud can include:
- Obtaining people’s personal identifying information and using that information to open credit cards in someone else’s name.
- Obtaining credit card information from many people and using that information to make purchases or take cash advances. Phishing scams are one way to obtain credit card data.Skimming, or attaching devices to card readers, is another common approach.
- Creating false identities with major credit bureaus using fictitious or stolen Social Security numbers. Making small purchases and paying off charges can result in credit limits being raised. Large sums of money can then be charged on the cards and never repaid.
A credit card fraud scheme becomes international any time stolen identifying information is shared with people overseas, or any time people from other countries participate in a scheme to improperly obtain or use credit.
Stolen card numbers and identifying information can be bought and sold in underground websites by people anywhere in the world. This means a victim’s personal identifying details or credit information could be used by someone thousands of miles away to purchase products or obtain cash.
International Credit Card Fraud Prosecution
Global credit card fraud can be challenging for prosecutors in the U.S. to successfully take legal action against. One issue is whether a defendant who is in a foreign country will be extradited to the United States to stand trial. Fighting extradition is very common.
Another issue is that if people in other countries stay outside of the United States when buying and selling card data, and no illicit business passes through the U.S., the U.S. government may not be able to pursue charges under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. The Justice Department has asked Congress to amend the law to make it illegal for anyone anywhere in the world to buy or sell a stolen credit card that has been issued by a U.S. bank, no matter where the transaction happens. However, the law has not yet been amended.
A New York credit card defense lawyer understands the laws that apply to international credit card theft, as well as the loopholes and problems with those laws that can make it more difficult for prosecutors who go after people who allegedly participated in international credit card fraud. If prosecutors cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you violated the letter of the law, you should not be found guilty of a fraud offense.
Charges for International Credit Card Fraud
The Credit Card Fraud and Abuse Act of 1984 was codified in 18 U.S. Code Section 1029 and is commonly used to prosecute those who are involved in international credit card fraud. You can be charged under this statute for trafficking, possessing, and/or using counterfeit access devices or device-making equipment.
International credit card fraud can also lead to charges for:
- Wire fraud (18 U.S. Code Section 1343)
- Bank fraud (18 U.S. Code Section 1344)
- Aggravated identity theft (18 U.S. Code Section 1028A)
- Fraud and related activity in connection with computers (18 U.S. Code Section 1030)
Wire fraud alone could lead to 30 years imprisonment and a $1 million penalty when the fraud affects a financial institution.
Getting Legal Help
Defending against international credit card fraud charges is possible but you need an experienced New York criminal defense lawyer to help develop a strategic plan. Contact Bukh and Associate for help with your case as soon as possible if you are charged.