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Credit Card Fraud Charges In Colorado

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If you have been charged with credit card fraud in Colorado, it’s in your best interest to hire a criminal defense attorney who can protect your rights as you go through the criminal justice system. A skilled attorney can evaluate your case and try to get the charges against you dropped or reduced. Until you have the chance to consult with a lawyer, the following overview about credit card fraud charges in Colorado provides examples of credit card fraud, penalties for a conviction, crimes closely related to credit card fraud, and when you need to call an attorney for credit card fraud charges in Colorado.

Credit card fraud typically falls under the criminal possession of a financial device (C.R.S § 18-5-903). The person who has the device knows, or should know, it is lost or stolen. A financial device is a broad legal term that refers to any instrument someone uses to get cash, credit, personal property, services, or anything else of value. It also refers to any instrument someone uses to make payments. The most common examples are credit cards, debit cards, checks, and money orders.

Credit card fraud also falls under other Colorado statutes, such as:

  • Unauthorized Use of a Financial Device (C.R.S. § 18-5-702)
  • Purchase on Credit to Defraud (C.R.S. § 18-5-207)
  • Identity Theft (C.R.S. § 18-5-902)

Examples of credit card fraud include:

  • Fake Phone Calls. A person calls someone under false pretenses to steal credit card information over the phone.
  • False Credit Applications. A person uses someone else’s information to apply for a credit card under their name.
  • Counterfeit Credit Cards. A person creates a counterfeit magnetic swipe card with a copy of the real cardholder’s identification.
  • Mail Interception. A person intercepts a new or replacement credit card, activates it, and uses it to make purchases.
  • Damaged Cards. A person uses a strong magnet to damage a credit card and erase its information. They purchase things by manually entering the card online or having a clerk manually enter details without swiping.

Account Takeover. A person obtains credit card information online and gets a card sent to them at the address of their choosing.

What Are the Possible Penalties for Credit Card Fraud Charges in Colorado?

If you get convicted of credit card fraud you face various penalties including fines and jail time. The amount of fine and amount of jail time depends on the exact charges, the number of credit cards you have in your possession, and the value of any fraudulent purchases. A conviction for the criminal possession or unauthorized use of a financial device can be a misdemeanor or felony.

For example, those convicted of criminal possession of a financial device face a class 1 misdemeanor that carries six to 18 months in jail and up to a $5,000 fine. If someone has two or more credit cards in their possession, they automatically get charged for a class 6 felony, which carries the same jail time, but comes with a fine of up to $100,000 and mandatory parole for one year.

The penalties get steeper with more cards. Penalties also get steeper if you get caught for the same crime multiple times. Additionally, once someone uses a stolen card and spends at least $2,000, they face felony charges. Those who make fraudulent charges that total $1,000,000 face a minimum of eight years in prison, but could face up to 24 years. They also face up to a $1,000,000 fine.

Crimes Related to Credit Card Fraud Charges in Colorado

If you were charged with the criminal possession or unauthorized use of a credit card, it’s possible you have other charges against you too. Credit card fraud often involves other crimes, including identity theft, fraudulent credit purchases, and larceny.

  • Identity Theft. Using another person’s credit card means someone is impersonating them and is a form of identity theft, a class 4 felony in Colorado. A conviction for identity theft carries up to a six-year prison sentence and a maximum fine of $500,000.
  • Purchase on Credit to Defraud. People can commit fraud with their own credit cards/credit. One way this occurs is by purchasing something with a credit card or with credit and selling the property before paying for it. A conviction comes with up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
  • Larceny. Stealing someone’s credit cards or creating fraudulent credit cards is a form of theft and carries the same type of penalties as the unauthorized use of a credit card.

When Should I Call an Attorney for Credit Card Fraud Charges in Colorado?

It’s always in your best interest to consult with a defense attorney if you are facing credit card fraud charges. Even the most lenient penalties involve jail time and fines. An experienced lawyer can review your case, advise you on your best defense, and give you the best chance of getting the case dropped or facing reduced charges. Maybe you had permission to use the card, you did not know you had a stolen card, or you did not intend to defraud anyone. An attorney can advocate for you and protect your rights as you go through the criminal justice process.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How serious is credit card fraud?

Credit card fraud can be a very serious crime. Even a minor charge can result in serious penalties. When credit card fraud is elevated to felony charges, however, you would likely be looking at a prison sentence in addition to other penalties.

How much money in credit card fraud is a felony?

Generally, using a credit card fraudulently to secure goods or services in excess of $1,000 would result in felony charges.

Is credit card fraud a criminal offense?

Yes, fraudulently procuring or using a credit card is a criminal offense and will be prosecuted as such.

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