Many people assume that credit card fraud only happens among strangers. Someone gets a hold of another person's information and opens one or more credit cards by forging his or her signature. The defrauded person has no idea this happened until he or she receive a bill in the mail.
In tough economic times, people sometimes do what they thought they never would in order to survive. This includes taking out credit cards in the name of family members. The most typical scenario involves a husband or wife adding themselves as a joint account holder or opening an account in the other spouse's name.
Credit card fraud also happens among parents and adult children, siblings, and extended family members. It is usually easy for someone to do because they know private details as well as how their relative signs his or her name. If you opened a credit card in a family member's name, the guilt is probably more than you can bear. Unfortunately, you may also have to deal with the person you defrauded pressing charges against you.
Penalties for Credit Card Fraud in California
California Penal Code 484 to 502.9 defines credit card fraud and the punishments for it. If convicted of credit card fraud, even when the victim was a family member, you could go to jail for up to three years. However, the charge may change to petty theft or grand theft depending on the amount of money defrauded and whether you have a previous criminal record.
A conviction for petty theft could send you to jail for six months in addition to the possibility of a fine up to $1,000. Grand theft convictions typically carry up to a three years jail sentence and larger fines. The prosecutor may seek a more severe penalty if you have a past criminal history to warrant it.
Get the Help You Need Today
If reconciliation and restitution with your family member isn't possible and he or she still wants to press charges, contact us at the Law Office of Nicolai Cocis for a free criminal defense consultation. We work with individuals who live in or around Temecula, Murrieta, Lake Elsinore, Menifee, Wildomar, Hemet, Corona and Riverside.