Wisconsin white collar crime: identity theft
In September 2013, three women allegedly part of the same criminal operation were accused of writing more than $500,000 in bad checks in the Milwaukee area on bank accounts fraudulently opened using the stolen identities of children, according to FOX6NOW.com. Apparently, credit accounts were also opened using children’s identities. The scheme involved purchasing expensive items like appliances that could be resold for money.
To open accounts, fake identity cards were created using the children’s information and the women’s pictures. Stealing the identity of a child can be particularly lucrative for the thief because the child has clean credit and using his or her identity will not raise any red flags.
According to an October 11, 2013, news brief by kfiz.com, a bill is under consideration in the Wisconsin legislature that would allow parents to freeze their children’s credit records until age 16 as a defense against identity theft. According to the article, Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt, R-Fond du Lac, says that the rate of identity theft is 51 times higher for kids than for adults.
Identity theft crime and punishment
Identity theft is the fraudulent use of another’s identity for financial or personal gain. Identity theft is a crime under federal and Wisconsin state laws.
The unauthorized, intentional, fraudulent use, attempt to use or possession with the intent to later use “personal identifying information” or a “personal identification document” of another living person or of a dead individual for personal gain or benefit, or to harm the person whose identity is stolen is a Class H felony under Wisconsin law.
Punishment for a Class H felony conviction in the state is a fine up to $10,000, up to six years of incarceration or both.
Identity theft is also a crime under various federal laws.
The importance of skilled criminal defense to white collar crime charges
Identity theft is a type of white collar crime, meaning those that do not involve violence, but rather some type of fraudulent activity that benefits the criminal financially. White collar criminals often abuse positions of trust – guardians and conservators, employees, directors and officers, and more – for their own illegal gain. Other examples of white collar crimes are embezzlement, forgery, insurance fraud, health care fraud, securities fraud and more.
Criminal penalties for state and federal white collar crime convictions are harsh and can include prison, fines and restitution, to say nothing of the harm to an individual’s professional and personal reputation. A white collar crime conviction may cause the loss of a professional license.
It is vitally important to face white collar criminal charges with vigorous criminal defense by an experienced attorney. A knowledgeable Wisconsin criminal defense lawyer can also advocate for an accused’s rights even at the investigation state, but certainly after charges have been filed by negotiation with the prosecution, and at trial and sentencing, if those stages become necessary.