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Posted by on in Fraud

credit-card-fraudIt was in late March that a major credit card fraud ring was shut down, an effort that was coordinated between Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) and United States law enforcement. One man is believed to be the mastermind behind over 40 websites on the dark web that were used to collect and sell stolen credit cards. The man and his associates used cryptocurrency to move hundreds of millions of dollars gained from the credit card theft, and it was this gain that the American authorities seized.

Although stealing credit cards is one type of credit card fraud, there are others that happen very frequently, as well. Three of the most common types of fraud that are considered federal offenses are below.

Phishing Scams


Posted by 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.


Posted by 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.



Illionois defense attorney, Illinois federal crimes lawyer, Illinois criminal defense lawyerOctober is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, which seeks to remind businesses and the public of the crimes that can be perpetrated online and the ways everyone can make the internet more secure. The National Cybersecurity Awareness Month was created in 2004 by the Department of Homeland Security and the National Cyber Security Alliance.

The FBI takes this opportunity to remind the public of major recent federal charges and convictions in the online arena, including:

  • The conviction of an online actor who tried to access university databases to commit fraud and identity theft;
  • Charges against a North Korean regime-backed programmer; and
  • Seventy-four arrests in this country and abroad of members of an international criminal network participating in a plan to infiltrate business email accounts.

“Realistically, we know we can’t prevent every attack, or punish every hacker,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said. Director Wray added that the FBI will continue to build on the initiatives it has in place to ferret out cybercrime and will continue to try to forge new partnerships with tech companies and others to keep the U.S. at the forefront of cybersecurity.


Illinois defense attorney, Illinois criminal justice system, Illinois criminal lawyer,Identity theft is a very serious crime that can come with unwanted consequences. This type of crime may destroy your life, as you may spend time in jail, pay hefty fines, and even lose future employment opportunities. As for the other person affected by identity theft, he or she may experience in a lowered credit score and may lose all other forms of credibility.

Consequences of Identity Theft on a Person’s Credit Score

If a person has been affected by identity theft, then he or she may experience a harder time applying for credit cards and loans. If a person committing the crime applies for a credit card or any other type of loan using the other person’s name, the chances are very good that he or she will never pay off the balance, or the thief will never make the payments on time. One missed payment on a credit card or loan can easily drop a person’s credit score by over 100 points.

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