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Government cracks down on identity theft operations

Today, it seems there are almost daily reports about some corporation or financial institution being hacked. From Minneapolis' own Target Corp. to JPMorgan and Home Depot, hackers are taking aim at U.S. corporations and making off with sensitive data including the personal identifying and financial information of customers.

Frequently, information obtained through data system breaches is used to commit acts related to identity theft and financial fraud. These types of operations are often complex and sophisticated and involve numerous players, many of whom know little to nothing about a plot and profit very little or not at all from their involvement.

With the passage of the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act in 1998, the federal government took action to impose harsh penalties against individuals involved in identity theft operations.

Criminal charges related to identity theft like mail fraud, computer fraud and wire fraud are felonies and individuals convicted of these crimes may face decades behind bars, be forced to pay hefty fines and have property and assets seized by the government.

Individuals who face felony criminal charges related to an alleged role in identity theft activities would be wise to take such charges seriously and retain a criminal defense attorney. Even in cases where an individual claims to have had no knowledge of a larger scheme or is determined to have played a minor role, he or she could still face felony charges, a prison sentence, fines and government forfeiture.

A defense attorney who handles matters related to identity theft can help defend against serious criminal charges and work to have charges dismissed or reduced.

Source: Department of Justice, "Identity Theft and Identity Fraud," 2014

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