Identity Theft Crime: Credit Card Abuse

What are Identity Theft Crimes?

The three most common Identity Theft Crimes are Credit Card Abuse, Fraudulent Use or Possession of Identifying Information and Forgery.  Identity Theft occurs when a victim’s identifying information is taken by another and that information is used to fraudulently obtain a benefit.  In Texas, there is no single crime that is specifically titled Identity Theft.  Rather, Identity Theft is what happens to the victims.  Identity Theft related actions that result in crime go by different names.  The crimes themselves are more specific versions of Theft, in that, in each crime some benefit was illegally obtained.

 

What is Credit Card Abuse?

Simply put, Credit Card Abuse is using another person’s credit card to make a purchase without the card owner’s permission.  Credit Card Abuse is a felony offense in Texas.  Punishments can range from relatively short first offender programs up to two years in a state jail facility.

The proof in a Credit Card Abuse case is usually very straight forward.  The rightful credit card owner notices a fraudulent charge on their credit card statement.  They call their credit card company and the police are involved.  Police will go to the retailer listed on the credit card statement for the fraudulent charge.  The statement will also have a date and time for when the credit card was used fraudulently.  The retailer will be able to look up store video for the transaction involving the card.  If the person in the video is not the card holder, that person becomes the defendant.

Do I need an Attorney for a Credit Card Abuse case?

A Credit Card Abuse charge is a big deal.  Many employers will not hire people with theft charges or felony charges.  Credit Card Abuse is both a theft and a felony.  The felony nature of the charge is also likely to affect a person’s ability to obtain credit or pass a background check for housing.  The help of an attorney is a must in a situation as serious as this.

Is there any defense for a Credit Card Abuse case?

Credit Card Abuse cases can be defended and we have done it successfully.  A recent client was charged with purchasing a laptop computer from Best Buy using another person’s credit card without permission.  The police and prosecution claimed to have video and still photographs of the fraudulent transaction.  Our attorney, Dan Peugh, in turn demanded all that information in a Discovery request.

Dan reviewed the provided photos and videos very closely.  The first thing that jumped out was that the client was not in the same clothing in all the images.  That prompted a closer look at the properties of the photos.  It was quickly learned that the various photos and videos were taken over several different dates most of which were not the alleged offense date.  This was suspicious.

Focus was then on the images and videos that were from the alleged offense date only.  Piecing together the videos from the different areas of Best Buy on that one date, it became clear that the client didn’t buy anything that day! In the video the client enters the store with a blue Best Buy bag in his hand that had a white box in it about the size of a computer software box.  He had white receipt tape in the other hand.  He went straight to customer service, talked to someone and left his bag and box at customer service.  The client is then seen on video going to a rack of software and picking up a sealed white box that looked exactly like the white box that he had walked in with.

On the date of the alleged Credit Card Abuse, the client had simply made a software exchange at Best Buy.  There was absolutely no evidence that the client had used someone else’s credit card to purchase a laptop!  A long email was sent to the prosecutor guiding him through the videos and photos and pointing him to the clips of the day in question.  The prosecutor reluctantly acknowledged his problem.  That case ended very well for that client.

What makes the Peugh Law Firm better than other attorneys or firms when it comes to Credit Card Abuse cases?

The difference that Peugh Law Firm clients enjoy when they hire us over the others is experience.  Attorney Dan Peugh has been practicing in the field of Criminal Law in Denton County for twenty years.  In that time he has read thousands of police reports and watched thousands of videos.  Dan has seen a thing or two in his twenty years.  He knows things are not always as they seem when it comes to police reports and the prosecutors’ cases.

We always request all the discovery that can be had in every case.  Then, Attorney Dan Peugh goes over the discovery items personally.  Discovery is NOT assigned to junior associates, paralegals, or legal assistants.  Defending a serious criminal charge is attorney work and therefore, discovery deserves an attorney’s eye.  The Peugh Law Firm operates according to the old saying, “there is no substitute for experience” and our clients benefit from that.

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