IL defense lawyerIdentity theft is a serious white-collar crime that can have profound consequences for the sufferer of the crime, both financially and emotionally. In the United States, identity theft is classified as a federal crime, with violators subject to strict penalties set out in the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act and a range of other statutes. Today, we will explore the ins and outs of identity theft, detailing why it is a crime prosecuted with the utmost seriousness. If you have been charged with such a crime, do not wait to contact a criminal defense attorney to begin the process of establishing your defense.

Identity Theft 101

Federal law strictly prohibits the crime of stealing someone’s identity, such as in cases of interstate commerce, taxation, and other activities of federal institutions. Essentially, the law considers identity theft a fraud crime involving knowingly using another person’s identity for monetary gain or to commit a crime. According to the law, an individual can be found guilty of identity theft if they have knowingly transferred or used another person’s identity information, such as their social security number, driver’s license number, and more, in connection with fraudulent activities.

The most common form of identity theft occurs when someone uses another person’s identity information to commit a financial-related crime. Because these crimes typically involve banks, credit card companies, and other financial institutions, numerous federal statutes related to these institutions make them a shining example of a federal white-collar crime that is prosecuted aggressively.


What Is Aggravated Identity Theft?

Posted on in Identity Theft

IL defense lawyerA New York man was sentenced to 36 months in prison for computer fraud and aggravated identity theft. According to the Justice Department news release, he hacked into a college’s network, stole email account information, including passwords. He used that information to gain access to female students’ social media accounts, where he collected nude photos and videos. Then, he traded the private photos with others online.

In response, the college allocated money and resources to address the network breach and assess and repair the damage. Because of that, the court also ordered the man to pay more than $35,000 in restitution and fees to the college.

As far as internet and computer fraud goes, the incident sounds fairly basic, but it begs the question: what is aggravated identity theft?


Common Defenses to Identity Theft

Posted on in Identity Theft
Illionois defense attorney,  Illinois criminal defense lawyerA recent story involving a U.S. astronaut has made headlines around the country. The astronaut, who spent six months onboard the International Space Station, has returned home, but the headlines may not be what she expected. Instead of being touted for her work, she is instead under scrutiny for a possible identity theft crime. While on board the ISS, she used a computer to look into her ex-wife’s bank account. She claims she was only trying to ensure there was enough money to care for their son, but she could face charges of identity theft. The astronaut in question is likely shocked to come home to this story, as most people are when they are accused of identity theft. However, there is hope. There are many common defenses federal criminal defense attorneys use in identity theft cases, and they are found below. Authorized Use When a person has given another person to use their identity, the person that uses it cannot be found guilty of identity theft. This is true even if the person stole money or something of value while assuming the identity. This sounds like an unreal situation, but it is more common than one would think. For example, a mother gives her son her bank card to go buy some groceries. While at the store, he purchases items his mom did not give permission for. While he should not have bought those items, he cannot be charged with identity theft because he was given permission to use the bank card. Lack of a Crime Simply stealing another person’s identity is not necessarily a crime, although in certain circumstances, such as hacking, it could constitute one. However, in many cases simply obtaining someone’s personal information is not a crime if nothing is done with that information. For example, if a credit card is mailed to the wrong house and a person at that address opens it, they have obtained a person’s credit card information. They can only be charged with a crime, though, if they use that credit card. If they cut it up and throw it out, or even keep it but never use it, they have not committed a crime. Lack of Intent Like so many crimes, identity theft cases often hinge on intent. Without intent, there is no crime. For example, two sales agents share the same first and last name. An administrative error allows one agent access to the other’s business account. Without realizing it, they use the funds in the account. They cannot be charged with an identity theft crime because they did not have the intent to take money from the account that was not rightfully theirs. Need a Good Defense? Call Our Illinois Federal Criminal Defense Attorney

Facing charges of identity theft is always shocking, even when the alleged act was not performed in space. If you have been charged with a crime, you need the help of our experienced Chicago federal criminal defense attorney. At the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel, we will work hard to prepare the defense you need and give you the best chance of a possible outcome in court. Call us today at 312-629-0669 for your free consultation to learn how we can help.


Is Identity Theft a Federal Crime?

Posted on in Identity Theft
Illionois defense attorney, Illinois federal crimes lawyer, Illinois criminal defense lawyerIdentity theft has become a well-known term in recent years. However, until recently it had no legal definition. It was not until the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998 that identity theft was recognized as a crime. And yes, it is now considered to be a federal crime. The penalties for identity theft are severe. Anyone charged with this crime needs to speak to an Illinois federal crimes attorney that can help with their case.

History of Identity Theft

Before 1998, identity theft was known as “false personation.” However, this crime involved someone misrepresenting their own identity rather than stealing someone else’s. False personation was very different than identity theft. While this crime may be committed so someone could avoid facing legal consequences of their actions, identity theft is nearly always about gaining access to someone else’s money.

Purpose of the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998

When this Act was created in 1998, it had four main purposes. The first was to recognize that identity theft was a crime against individuals. Until that point, it was largely seen as a crime against creditors. The second purpose of the Act was to make the general public aware that the Federal Trade Commission was and is the official organization where identity theft should be reported. The Act also increased penalties for identity theft and fraud. Lastly, it is very explicit in stating that stealing information is a crime. Prior to the Act, it was only a crime to produce or possess fake identity documents.

Other Laws Pertaining to Identity Theft

In addition to the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998, there have also been other laws created pertaining to identity theft. The Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act of 2004 is one such law. This Act defines aggravated identity theft. Aggravated identity theft occurs when someone steals another’s identity in order to commit a felony such as immigration violations, theft of Social Security benefits, and domestic terrorism. Four years later, the Identity Theft Enforcement and Restitution Act was enacted in 2008. This Act allows federal courts to prosecute even in cases when the victim and the perpetrator live in the same state. It also provides that restitution should be paid for any time spent correcting the problems caused by identity theft.

Penalties for Identity Theft

The penalties for identity theft will vary, depending on whether it is prosecuted as a misdemeanor or a felony. A misdemeanor conviction could result in the accused spending up to one year in jail. They could also be required to pay high fines to the federal court. A felony conviction, on the other hand, will be much more severe. These crimes carry a maximum penalty of up to 15 years in prison and fines.

Call the Illinois Federal Crime Lawyer that can Help

Being charged with identity theft is very serious. If you have been charged with this crime, get the help you need from an experienced Chicago federal crime lawyer today. The Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel LLC, Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney will prepare a strong defense to give you the best chance of a successful outcome. These are not charges you want to fight on your own. Call us today at 312-629-0669 for your free consultation so we can start reviewing your case.



Identity Theft and Its Effect on Taxes

Posted on in Identity Theft

Illinois defense attorney, Illinois criminal lawyer, Cook County defense lawyerWe are now approaching tax season, and many of us are not looking forward to getting them filed. Over the past few years, since the evolution of technology, the number of people affected by identity theft has increased, and that number, unfortunately, continues to grow. Identity theft has been shown to affect tax documents and pertinent information, and individuals filing their taxes during the season may face serious issues because of the type of theft that had occurred.

Ways the IRS Has Tried to Combat Identity Theft

To combat the ever-growing issue of identity theft and how it can adversely affect tax information, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) created a way for individuals to be better protected from identity theft. This tool was called the Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN), and, in 2016, the IRS suspended the tool because of a potential security breach. The IP PIN was supposed to be used for individuals affected by identity theft and fraudulent tax returns so that they could have their own personal identification number (PIN) that would confirm their identity before a tax return would be filed. The tax return would be rejected if the PIN was entered incorrectly.

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