Virginia Internet Crimes Lawyer: Identity Theft and Fraud
Identity theft or identity fraud occurs when an individual takes another’s personal property by means of fraud or deception, usually with the intent of making economic gains. Increasingly, identity fraud is occurring via the internet with theft of Social Security numbers, bank account data, and credit card numbers. Depending on the information stolen, money may be taken out of accounts, credit cards may be used to purchase expensive items during a sudden buying frenzy, or the victim’s tax return may be illegally confiscated.
Identity Theft and Cybercrime on the Rise
The internet is, of course, a valuable tool in many situations, but can be used against people just as easily. Typically, the older the person is, the more likely that they will be taken advantage of financially through identity fraud. Because of this, and because it is one of the fastest growing types of crime, both the federal and state governments crack down hard upon those facing charges of identity theft and identity fraud. According to the Insurance Information Institute, identity theft has resulted in the theft of $112 billion over the last six years. Moreover, the rate of increased identity theft and fraud has gone from 2.6 million complaints to 3.1 million in just one year (from 2014 to 2015). The following types of personal information were used as listed below in percentages:
- 2 percent government documents or benefits fraud;
- 8 credit card fraud;
- 9 phone or utilities fraud;
- 9 bank fraud;
- 7 attempted identity theft;
- 5 loan fraud;
- 3 employment-related fraud; and
- 2 other identity theft.
Definition of Identity Theft, and Penalties, in Virginia
In Virginia, as per § 18.2-186.3, it is illegal to:
- Obtain personal information from a party with the intent of accessing their financial resources, benefits, or other identification;
- Use obtained personal ID to obtain goods, services, or to additional ID in another party’s name; and
- Impersonate a state official or law enforcement officer with the intent of obtaining personal ID.
Penalties are as follows in the state of Virginia:
- If damage to the victim was under $200, the crime is punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor;
- If damage to the victim was over $200, the crime is punishable as a Class 6 felony;
- If multiple identity theft crimes were committed, it is punishable as a Class 6 felony;
- If a computer was used to commit the crime, it is punishable as a Class 6 felony regardless of whether the damages were under or over $200; and
- It is a Class 5 felony if a computer was used to commit the crime and the information stolen was sold to another property.
Contact an Experienced Loudoun County, Leesburg, Winchester, Fairfax, and Prince William Attorney Today
If you have been charged with identity theft or fraud, make no mistake; you will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Depending on what and how much property you are being charged with taking, you may be facing serious prison time. Call the Loudoun County, Leesburg, Winchester, Fairfax, and Prince William cybercrimes defense attorneys of Simms Showers, LLP today at 703-997-7821.