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Is Credit Card Fraud a Federal Crime?

Credit card fraud occurs when someone uses a fake or stolen card to make purchases. Various actions can constitute this offense, with the two most common being application fraud and unauthorized use of an existing account. Credit card fraud can be charged as both a state and federal crime.

State Laws Prohibiting Unauthorized Use of a Credit Card

Under Iowa CODE § 715A.6, it is illegal for a person to knowingly use a fake or stolen credit card to obtain goods or services.

Specifically, the law prohibits such use when the purchaser knows that:

  • The credit card belongs to someone else or that it was falsely created
  • The credit card was canceled or revoked
  • The credit card’s use was unauthorized

The value of the item(s) and/or service(s) purchased determines the level of charge for the offense. Transactions for anything over $10,000 result in a class “C” felony. Purchases between $1,001 and $9,999 result in a class “D” felony. If the value of the items is $1,000 or less, the charge is an aggravated misdemeanor.

Under the law, goods and services are valued at their highest amount at the time the offense occurred. The worth can be determined by market value, community value, or replacement value. Additionally, the total amount of the purchase can be aggregated and considered a single offense if the transactions happened at the same place by the same person, or if they were committed by two different people but the proximity suggested they were part of a plan or scheme.

Federal Credit Card Fraud Laws

The U.S. government also prohibits individuals from using a credit card they know to be fraudulent. Federal statute 15 U.S. Code § 1644 lists instances in which credit card purchases and transactions are unlawful.

These include:

  • Knowingly using or attempting to use a credit card a person knows to be altered, forged, stolen, or lost to obtain goods, services, and/or money valued at $1,000 aggregated within 1 year;
  • Unlawfully transporting or attempting to transport a forged, lost, stolen, or fake credit card across state lines or through foreign commerce;
  • Unlawfully using a transportation service to move a credit card known to be fraudulent through state lines or foreign commerce;
  • Knowingly receiving, concealing, using transporting goods and/or services with an aggregate worth of $1,000 or more across state lines, and knowing that the products were obtained with a fraudulent credit card;
  • Knowingly receiving, concealing, selling, or transporting tickets valued at $500 or more across state or international lines and knowing they were purchased with a fraudulent credit card; and
  • Obtaining cash, property, services, or any item of value that has, within 1 year, an aggregate worth of $1,000 or more knowing that the object or services were attained with a fraudulent credit card

Each of these offenses carry penalties of up to 10 years in prison and/or up to $10,000 in fines.

Schedule Your Free Consultation with Keegan, Tindal & Mason

Whether you are facing a state or federal crime charge, the consequences of a conviction could be detrimental: Jail or prison time could put a strain on relationships, paying substantial fines could hurt your finances. Not to mention that even after you finish your sentence you could be facing collateral consequences, such as ineligibility for government aid or difficulty getting a job. Our lawyers are here to provide the defense you need to prevent that from happening. Backed by decades of combined legal experience, we know what it takes to win cases, and we successfully obtained dismissals and reductions in charges for past clients. We will fight hard on your behalf and will work toward a favorable outcome.

We know how to build effective defenses for even the most complex cases. To speak with our team, call us at (319) 499-5524 or contact us online.