Fraud Scam Targeting South Florida Senior Citizens
A credit and debit card scam focusing on unwitting senior citizens has resulted in at least one arrest, though police continue to investigate what seems to be a widespread scheme. The Sun-Sentinel reported on December 9, 2016 that elderly victims would turn over their debit card and PIN to a person posing as a fraud investigator. The perpetrator would then take the card and head to an ATM to make a cash withdrawal or a store to purchase goods. The specifics of each incident vary slightly, but the overall scheme may lead to different criminal charges involving fraud and white collar crimes.
Details of the Scam: In most cases, senior citizens received a phone call or knock on the door from an individual warning that their account and cards had been compromised. The perpetrators claimed to be fraud investigators from the bank and were able to rattle off personal information and account activity. The accuracy of the details helped gain the trust of the victims, enough to encourage them to give out the card PIN. The offender would confiscate the card and have an accomplice show up with a new card for the elderly person. With the card and PIN in hand, the offender would head to an ATM or store to use the card.
Investigations continue on the widespread scam, but the details of individual cases may support different types of charges for fraud.
Fraudulent Use of a Credit Card: To prove this offense, a prosecutor must show:
- Use of a credit or debit card with the intent to defraud;
- The card was obtained unlawfully, was forged, or was presented under the pretense that the true owner authorized its use; and
- The perpetrator actually obtained money or something of value as a result of using the card.
Larceny: Though it’s a theft crime in general, larceny may be implicated in the situation of the South Florida scheme targeting senior citizens. Under Florida law, someone who impersonates another individual to obtain property can be charged with larceny. These individuals presented themselves as representatives from the victim’s bank and tricked the victim into turning over a card and PIN details.
Charges for the Crimes: Both larceny and fraudulent use of a credit card may be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the circumstances. The key is the value of the property taken and how often the perpetrator committed the offense in a six-month period. The crime is a misdemeanor if there was only one incident and the value of goods or cash obtained was less than $100; for two or more crimes or value in excess of $100, felony charges may apply.
Consult with a Florida Criminal Defense Attorney
The legal consequences of a conviction for white collar crimes or fraud may include jail time, fines, and probation. In certain case, you might even have to pay back the entire amount you obtained through fraud, which can add up to thousands of dollars in restitution. It’s critical to have a criminal defense attorney on your side, as an attorney with experience and an extensive legal background can fight for your rights under the law. If you’re facing fraud or theft charges, please contact the Fort Lauderdale office of attorney Kevin J. Kulik today. We can answer your questions or schedule a consultation to discuss the specifics of your case.