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Credit Card Crimes

Credit/Debit Card Crimes

There are a whole host of Virginia laws dealing with credit and debit cards.

  • Va. Code 18.2-192 Credit Card Theft
  • Va. Code 18.2-193 Credit Card Forgery
  • Va. Code 18.2-195 Credit Card Fraud
  • Va. Code 18.2-196.1 Unlawful use of Credit Card Scanner or Re-encoder
  • Va. Code 18.2-197 Criminally Receiving Goods and Services Obtain by Credit Card Fraud

Credit Card Theft

Virginia credit card laws apply to credit cards and debit cards. Gift cards, ATM cards and other types of payment cards typically also apply to these laws.

Credit card theft includes stealing the actual card or the card number. However, the Virginia credit card theft laws can be broken even without “stealing” anything.

If a credit card or credit card number is accidentally delivered to you, or if you accidentally find it, but you keep the card or number with the intent to use it or give it to someone other than its owner then you can committed credit card theft.

Buying or selling cards or card numbers without authorization is also called credit card theft in Virginia.

Having two or more signed cards or card numbers that do not belong to you, is one way the prosecution is allowed to prove credit card theft.

Because credit card numbers are treated the same as the actual cards, a person can be convicted of credit card theft for unlawfully taking a credit card number through the internet, from a receipt, from business records, or even just by writing it down.

However, a person is not guilty of credit card theft is they were lawfully and purposefully given a card or card number by the owner but later illegally used it.

For example, if your employer gives you a company credit card to buy gas for a company car and you use the card to buy fishing gear you have not committed credit card theft. Because the card was legally and purposefully given to you by the owner it was not stolen or illegally retained. The crime you committed was embezzlement not credit card theft.

Credit card theft is always a form of grand larceny regardless of the amount stolen or whether anything of value was bought with the card or not. This means that credit card theft is a felony and comes with up to 20 years in prison and $2,500 in fines.

An experienced criminal defense attorney should be able to give you a relatively accurate prediction of the likely outcome of your case after they have had a chance to discuss the facts of your case.

Conviction for credit card theft stays on your permanent criminal record forever. There are no exponents for any criminal convictions in Virginia.

Conviction can effect job applications, security clearance, applications to graduate school, professional licensing and can result in deportation. A felony conviction will also result in loss of certain civil rights; such as, gun ownership and voting rights.

The single larceny doctrine does not apply to credit card theft or the other credit card crimes in this chapter. This means that if a person steals multiple card numbers or cards at the same time from the same person, that the Defendant can receive a separate conviction for each card or card number stolen.

Credit Card Forgery

Credit card forgery laws apply to debit card as well as credit cards. Gift cards, ATM cards and other types of payment cards typically also apply to this law.

Credit card forgery is when a person commits any of the following acts with the intent to defraud:

  • Making a fake credit card,
  • Signing the back of someone else’s credit card,
  • Alters an otherwise valid credit card.
  • Creates a forged or false sales draft, withdrawal draft or advance draft.

Sales, withdrawals and advance drafts are the paper or carbon copies of credit cards that were used before computerized credit card transactions became common place. Now days were do not see very many forgery cases that involve this low-tech method.

The most common forms of credit card forgery now days, involve altering the electronic data contained in the magnetic strip of a credit card.

Credit card forgers will get a valid credit card for themselves and then switch the electronic information contained in their card’s magnetic strip with the information contained on another person’s card.

The forged card appears exactly like their legitimate credit card, but when it is swiped the computer bills someone else’s card.

This is why sales clerks ask us to give them the last four digits of our card at the store. They are checking that the number on the electronic strip matches the number on the face of the card.

Conviction for credit card forgery is a class 5 felony. Credit card forgery comes with up to ten years in prison and $2,500 in fines.

An experienced criminal defense attorney should be able to give you a relatively accurate prediction of the likely outcome of your case after they have had a chance to discuss the facts of your case.

Conviction for credit card forgery stays on your permanent criminal record forever. There are no exponents for any criminal convictions in Virginia.

Conviction can effect job applications, security clearance, applications to graduate school, professional licensing and can result in deportation. A felony conviction will also result in loss of certain civil rights; such as, gun ownership and voting rights.

Credit Card Fraud

A person is guilty of credit card fraud when the commit any one of the following acts:

  • Using a revoked or expired credit card/card number in an attempt to get something of value
  • Falsely claiming to be the owner of a credit card/ number and successfully get something of value.
  • Successfully using a false card or false number to get something of value.
  • Obtaining control over a credit card or credit card number as a security for a debt.
  • Using your card to deliberately get more money than your credit limit or draft amount allows.
  • Sells goods or services to someone whom he knows is using a stolen card or card number.
  • Sells good or services to someone who he knows is using an expired or revoked credit card.
  • Reporting false sales to a credit card company.
  • Charging a credit card holder more money than they are authorized to charge.

All of these forms of credit card fraud require intent to defraud. That means that have intent to commit fraud.

If my friend gives me his credit card and tells me to go and get some milk from the store I am not committing credit card fraud because I am not intending to defraud anyone.

The same rule applies to accidentally handing a store clerk an expired or revoked credit card.

The court can draw conclusions about your intent from your behavior. If a person uses a false name and false address when purchasing goods with someone else’s credit card the court can interpret that as intent to defraud.

Credit card fraud is different than other credit card crimes because many of the forms of credit card fraud require that the defendant actually get some goods or service.

For example, if a defendant tries to use a credit card or credit card number that doesn’t belong to them but fails to get anything of value for their efforts then they have committed attempted credit card fraud but not actual credit card fraud.

Credit card fraud’s punishment are also dependent on the value of the goods or services obtained by fraud within a single 6 months period.

If the total value is less than $200 within a six month period than the credit card fraud is a class 1 misdemeanor with a punishment of up to 12 months in jail and $2,500 in fines.

If the value of the good and services obtained by fraud is $200 or more within a 6 month period than the credit card fraud is a class 6 felony with a punishment of up to 5 years in prison and $2,500.

If anyone conspires to commit credit card fraud and any part of the fraud or the conspiracy takes places within Virginia than they are guilty of a class 6 felony regardless of the dollars amount or time period.

Conspiracy to commit credit card fraud comes with up to 5 years in prison and a $2,500 fine.

An experienced criminal defense attorney should be able to give you a relatively accurate prediction of the likely outcome of your case after they have had a chance to discuss the facts of your case.

Conviction for credit card fraud stays on your permanent criminal record forever. There are no expungments for any criminal convictions in Virginia.

Conviction can effect job applications, security clearance, applications to graduate school, professional licensing and can result in deportation. A felony conviction will also result in loss of certain civil rights; such as, gun ownership and voting rights.

Unlawful use of Credit Card Scanner or Re-encoder

Anyone who scans or records another person’s credit or debit card without permission and who does it maliciously is guilty of this crime.

This law is aimed at people who are using fob style scanners or other electronic devices to grab data from people’s cards but it also outlaws clerks from double scanning someone’s credit card at a cash register.

If all the person does is scan or recode the credit card the crime is a class 1 misdemeanor with up to 12 months in jail and $2,500 in fines.

If the Defendant distributes the stolen data to another person then the crime becomes a class 6 felony with up to 5 years in prison and $2,500 in fines.

If the Defendant uses the stolen data in the commission of another crime then violating this law also become a class 6 felony with up to 5 years in prison and $2,500 in fines. The most common was that data is used in a committing crimes is in credit card fraud or credit card forgery.

A common example of this is when a person uses a scanner to steal someone’s credit card data and then they use the stolen data to re-encode their own credit card with someone else’s data and go on a spending spree. This is an example of using the stolen data to commit credit card forgery and credit card fraud.

An experienced criminal defense attorney should be able to give you a relatively accurate prediction of the likely outcome of your case after they have had a chance to discuss the facts of your case.

Conviction for unlawful use of a credit card scanner stays on your permanent criminal record forever. There are no expungments for any criminal convictions in Virginia.

Conviction can effect job applications, security clearance, applications to graduate school, professional licensing and can result in deportation. A felony conviction will also result in loss of certain civil rights; such as, gun ownership and voting rights.

Receiving Good s and Service Obtained By Credit Card Fraud

If a person receives goods or services knowing or believing that those goods or services were paid for by credit card fraud then they are guilty of this crime.

Some of the common examples of this crime include:

  • Receiving gifts from a friend who you know has been buying things with a stolen card.
  • Buy unreasonably cheap new items from someone you know is stealing or using stolen credit cards.
  • Shady “work from home” jobs where people send you items purchased with stolen credit cards and you then mail them distribute the goods to others.
  • Or police will charge someone with this crime when they are caught with items they bought in another jurisdiction with a stolen credit card.

This crime is often a difficult crime for prosecutors to prove because it requires proving that the defendant knew the goods or services were obtained by credit card fraud.

It is not enough to prove that the goods or services were too cheap to be legitimate. The prosecution must prove that the Defendant knew the goods or services were obtained not by any type of fraud, but specifically credit card fraud.

The punishments for this crime are determined by the total value of the goods or services received within a 6 month period. If the total value is less than $200 then this crime is a class 1 misdemeanor which comes with up to 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine.

If the value of all the goods and services within the 6 months period is worth $200 or more than this crime is a class 6 felony and the maximum punishment is 5 years in prison and a $2,500 fine.

An experienced criminal defense attorney should be able to give you a relatively accurate prediction of the likely outcome of your case after they have had a chance to discuss the facts of your case.

Conviction for this crime stays on your permanent criminal record forever. There are no expungments for any criminal convictions in Virginia.

Conviction can effect job applications, security clearance, applications to graduate school, professional licensing and can result in deportation. A felony conviction will also result in loss of certain civil rights; such as, gun ownership and voting rights.

If you have a pending credit card case or have been accused of a credit card crime, call Nichols & Green pllc for a free consultation. (703) 383-9222.

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