Federal identity theft cases refers to all types of crime in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person’s personal data in some way that involves fraud or deception, typically for economic gain.
Federal identity theft laws have their origin in 1998, when Congress passed the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act . This legislation created a new offense of identity theft, which prohibits “knowingly transfer[ring] or us[ing], without lawful authority, a means of identification of another person with the intent to commit, or to aid or abet, any unlawful activity that constitutes a violation of Federal law, or that constitutes a felony under any applicable State or local law.” 18 U.S.C. § 1028(a)(7). This offense, in most circumstances, carries a maximum term of 15 years’ imprisonment, a fine, and criminal forfeiture of any personal property used or intended to be used to commit the offense.
Federal identity theft cases may also involve other Federal criminal statutes such as identification fraud (18 U.S.C. § 1028), credit card fraud (18 U.S.C. § 1029), computer fraud (18 U.S.C. § 1030), mail fraud (18 U.S.C. § 1341), wire fraud (18 U.S.C. § 1343), or financial institution fraud (18 U.S.C. § 1344). Each of these federal offenses are felonies that carry substantial penalties in some cases, as high as 30 years’ imprisonment, fines, and criminal forfeiture.
Several other Federal statues apply to Federal identity theft cases. These include:
The Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act of 2004 (Pub. L. 108–275 § 1028A) is a Federal identity theft statute that establishes penalties for “aggravated” identity theft, which is using the identity of another person to commit felony crimes, including immigration violations, theft of another’s Social Security benefits, and acts of domestic terrorism.
The Identity Theft Enforcement and Restitution Act of 2008 amends 18 U.S.C. § 3663(b) to make it clear that restitution orders for Federal identity theft crimes may include an amount equal to the value of the victim’s time spent remediating the actual or intended harm of the identity theft or aggravated identity theft. The new law also allows federal courts to prosecute when the criminal and the victim live in the same state. Under previous law, federal courts only had jurisdiction if the thief uses interstate communication to access the victim’s personal information.
William K. Bradford and Amber L. Ladner of Bradford Ladner LLP have years of experience handling Federal Identity Theft cases. If you are facing identity theft charges and need legal assistance, please contact us and schedule a free consultation to discuss your situation.