The Latest Fraud Scam in Florida: “Forced Sale”
A couple was finally apprehended after weeks of scamming retailers under a credit card scheme across several states. Numerous charges are still coming as authorities continue to investigate in a coordinated effort, but the couple is currently in custody in Walton County, Florida, according to ABC affiliate WKRG News 5. The pair jilted businesses out of thousands of dollars using a creative scam that can be quite successful because companies don’t discover the crime until the offenders are long gone. Police are cracking down on the “forced sale” swindle used by the couple, so you need a strong criminal defense if you’re facing similar charges in Florida.
What is a credit card “forced sale” scam?
There are two typical scenarios where you can get into trouble with the forced sale scheme, both of which involve a fraudulent credit card and/or number:
- You run your credit card and the sales person informs you that a “Call for Authorization” or “Declined” message is generated. You call the number provided and get a bogus authorization number to enter, and the machine will process the sale and issue a receipt; OR,
- You request to personally enter your credit card number. Again, the register will process the sale and print a receipt.
How is a forced sale credit card scam treated under Florida law?
You may think that no crime is involved because you didn’t use a card that is forged, stolen, unlawfully obtained; plus, you did obtain a valid receipt, so credit card fraud doesn’t apply. However, the forced sale scheme is actually a complex offense of access device fraud: The manipulation of electronic monetary transactions by illegally gaining access to financial institution data.
Under Florida law, access device fraud may be prosecuted under fraud statutes or identity theft laws, depending on the circumstances. However, the federal government does have jurisdiction over these types of crimes, usually treating them as a white collar crime.
What are the penalties for conviction of access device fraud?
A prosecuting attorney may charge you with a first degree misdemeanor if you commit two fraudulent offenses in six months, where the value of the goods obtained were less than $100. You may be sentenced up to one year in prison and a fine of $1,000. However, the charge may be a felony for multiple incidents and where the value exceeds $100. A judge may issue a prison sentence up to five years, along with a maximum fine of $5,000.
Penalties increase if an access device fraud crime is charged as a federal white collar crime. You could be looking at up to 10 years in prison, or even 20 years’ jail time for repeat offenses.
You’re Entitled to a Solid Criminal Defense
Florida and federal law are tough on crimes involving fraud, and will pursue charges to the fullest extent possible. If you’re convicted of white collar crimes like the forced sale scam, you could be facing severe penalties, including jail time and hefty fines. It’s important to consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer who will fight for your rights and present appropriate defenses. Please contact the Fort Lauderdale office of criminal defense attorney Kevin J. Kulik today for a confidential consultation to discuss your case in more detail.