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Penalties for credit card crimes under federal law

Congress addressed crimes that are commonly known as credit card fraud in 1984’s Credit Card Fraud Act. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, this was codified as 18 U.S.C. Sect. 1029, with penalties for this type of white collar crime listed under Sect. 1029(c). These penalties are very serious, and Philadelphia residents who are charged with such offenses may want to educate themselves on what they may face if convicted.

As described by the statute (which is available through the United States Government Printing Office), all convictions under this law will result in the forfeiture of any property that a defendant did use or intended to use in the course of committing the crime. Credit card fraud also carries the potential for fines and/or imprisonment. For a single offense under this law, the maximum prison sentence will either be 10 or 15 years. Convictions of multiple offenses under this law carry prison sentences of up to 20 years. 

It is important to keep in mind that this law is titled quite broadly as “fraud and related activity in connection with access devices.” Connection to access devices encompasses a wide variety of activities, including the fraudulent production, use or trafficking of counterfeit devices; the trafficking or possession of device-making equipment; and fraudulent transactions that amount to $1,000 or more in a 1-year period. According to the DOJ, this broad definition was deliberately created by legislators, as Congress wished to provide prosecutors with a wide jurisdictional base for pursuing credit card fraud. 

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Gregory R. Gifford
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