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Texas Credit Card Fraud: How It Is Investigated and Charged

Criminal Law Blog by The Law Office of Greg Tsioros

Texas Credit Card Fraud: How It Is Investigated and Charged

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Texas Credit Card Fraud Charges

Most adults use credit cards on a regular basis or know someone who does. Credit cards are an essential modern convenience that people use for a wide variety of purposes. Although most people use these cards correctly and legally, some people may choose to use them for fraudulent purposes. Using a credit card in an attempt to avoid paying for purchases or to obtain another person’s money is a serious crime. It is also a crime to use a credit card belonging to someone else without the owner’s consent.

What Is Credit Card Fraud?

Fraud is defined as the use of deceit for the purpose of obtaining some benefit to which the fraudster is not legally entitled. This is a common type of credit card abuse. In legal terms, there is no official distinction between credit card fraud and credit card abuse. Both of these terms refer to illegal activities involving the use of a credit card.

Some examples of credit card fraud/abuse include:

  • Using a card belonging to another person
  • Obtaining another person’s credit card number illegally
  • Using a found credit card
  • Using a fake credit card number
  • Obtaining any benefits or items that were purchased with a fraudulent credit card

Under the law, a person is only allowed to use a credit card which is in their name or which the card owner has allowed them to use. Any other use of a credit card belonging to another person may be grounds for arrest and legal prosecution.

Investigating Credit Card Fraud

There are a number of ways that law enforcement agencies detect and punish credit card fraud. Many of these agencies use very sophisticated investigative techniques when searching for this type of abuse. Due to the fact that credit card fraud often takes place online, credit card fraud investigations often involve some degree of Internet detection.

Common credit card fraud investigation techniques include:

  • Tracing credit card numbers reported by owners who lost cards
  • Setting up sting operations to pose as illegal credit card brokers
  • Alerting stores to potential credit card fraud perpetrators
  • Tracking numbers of lost or stolen cards as they are used

Online fraud investigations may also involve searching for people who steal credit card information online. Known as “phishing,” the practice of stealing credit card information online is a common practice. In many cases, a person may receive an email from a person posing as a bank employee and request their credit card information. In reality, this is an attempt to steal and sell a credit card number.

Credit Card Fraud Penalties

Credit card fraud and abuse are serious crimes with serious penalties in Texas. A person who is charged and found guilty of credit card fraud may face a jail sentence and a fine. Specifically, credit card fraud is a state jail felony in the state of Texas. This means that it is punishable by:

  • 180 days or up to two years in state jail
  • A fine of up to $10,000

Also, a person who is found guilty of perpetrating credit card fraud against an elderly victim may have their charges enhanced and their sentence increased.

Common Defenses

A defense attorney may be able to help a defendant fight back against credit card charges in court trial. In order for a person to be convicted of credit card fraud, the prosecution must prove that they had the intent to deliberately misuse a credit card in an illegal manner.

As a result, the defense attorney may argue that the defendant did not or could not know that they did not have permission to use a card belonging to someone else. Also, the defense attorney may argue that the defendant was not attempting to defraud anyone or break the law with their actions. If the defendant is a minor under the age of 18, the attorney may argue that the defendant’s age caused him or her to act irresponsibly.

If these tactics are successful, the court may agree to lessen the penalty for the crime.

Have you been charged with credit card fraud? Attorney Greg Tsioros has the knowledge and experience to ensure that your rights are protected in the legal system. Contact his office today at 832-752-5972.

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