Broward County credit card fraud claims are taken seriously. Credit card fraud can be charged under federal or state laws. When charged as a state crime, it’s known as fraudulent use of a credit card. In a Florida appellate case, the defendant was convicted of multiple charges including fraudulent use of a credit card that violated Florida Statutes section 817.61.
On appeal, he argued only the lower court made a mistake in denying his motion for judgment of acquittal with regard to fraudulent use of a credit card. He claimed that in using the stolen credit card, he didn’t represent he was actually authorized to use it.
The case arose when the victim whose card was stolen was on retreat at a monastery when she got an alert her debit card had been used to charge something. The victim testified she didn’t give anybody permission to use the card. She knew she hadn’t made any charges and found her whole purse was missing. A monastery employee was told about the theft and said there’d been someone on the premises acting suspiciously and wearing a construction vest. The person tried to hide when he saw the employee.
The employee identified the defendant in a photo lineup. An officer came to investigate and went to the restaurant where the debit card was twice used. Surveillance videos allowed him to form a description and place a video still of a person wearing a yellow vest. Days after that, the officer came into contact with the defendant who was wearing a yellow vest and admitted he was the person in the surveillance footage.
The restaurant manager testified the defendant had come in twice on a single day and bought things with the victim’s credit cards. The defendant didn’t sign the receipts. After the prosecutor presented the state’s case, the defendant asked for a judgment of acquittal on the grounds that he hadn’t represented his identity as being the victim’s identity when he used the card. The motion was denied. He was convicted.
He appealed. Under Florida Statutes section 817.61, it is a crime to fraudulently use a credit card, but there are multiple ways to commit this crime. It can include using a card intending to defraud someone providing anything of value in order to get something of value by representing he is the holder of the card. The defendant relied on an earlier case to argue that the prosecutor hadn’t proven the essential elements of a violation of section 817.61. When the defendant in the prior case used her mother’s card without authorization, she signed for her purchases in her own name and told the merchant the card was her mother’s. She hadn’t represented she was the owner of the card, and so the prosecutor couldn’t prove its charge.
However, in this case, the prosecutor established the defendant used a credit card illegally. Moreover, the defendant swiped the card, and the victim testified she hadn’t given anybody permission to use the card. The court found that the act of swiping should be interpreted as a representation that the swiper had the authority to use the card. There was an implicit representation he was the cardholder.
The convictions and sentences were affirmed.
If you’re charged with a white collar crime like credit card fraud in Fort Lauderdale or elsewhere in Broward County, it is crucial to hire knowledgeable counsel who can mount a strong defense. Call The Hoffman Firm at (954) 524-4474 or (800) 223-1866, or contact us via our online form.