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What is the penalty for credit card fraud?

In Pennsylvania, a person who knowingly uses or attempts to use a credit card that is counterfeit, altered or revoked can be charged with credit card fraud. A person can also be charged with this crime if they get or attempt to get a third party to use a counterfeit or revoked credit card. Because Pennsylvania takes fraud seriously, even a misdemeanor charge can result in a prison sentence.

In most cases, potential credit card fraud penalties and charges are tied to the value of any goods or services that were obtained using the credit card. For example, if the value of the items obtained totaled less than $50, an accused person could be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor, which carries a maximum prison sentence of two years. If the value was over $50 but less than $500, the accused person could face a first-degree misdemeanor charge, which carries a maximum prison sentence of five years. If the value of the items obtained totaled more than $500, the person can be charged with a third-degree felony, which carries a maximum prison sentence of seven years.

Pennsylvania considers the use of each card as a separate offense. For example, if someone uses three cards in one day to make purchases, the person could face three separate charges with three separate penalties.

When someone is accused of credit card fraud, there are several different defense strategies that may be applicable to the person's case. These strategies may include providing proof that the accused person had no knowledge that the card was counterfeit or stolen, that they were intending to use the card properly or that the counterfeit card did not belong to them. Because every case is different, someone accused of fraud may wish to seek advice from a criminal defense attorney.

Source: Findlaw, "Pennsylvania Credit Card Fraud Laws", December 04, 2014

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