When does credit card fraud become a federal crime?

On Behalf of | Jun 2, 2023 | Criminal Defense |

Many crimes are exclusive to the states, meaning only the state government or a locality within the state will prosecute them. However, there are a few crimes that the state and the federal government may charge. Credit card fraud is one such offense.

Nerdwallet explains situations when using a credit card in an illegal manner can land somebody in trouble with federal authorities.

Criminal activities in other states

If a person takes credit card information from someone in California and only uses it in the state, it is likely that only a state prosecutor will levy charges. This is because the crime occurred within the boundaries of the state and involves a crime described by state law.

By contrast, many crimes are federal in nature because they occur across state lines. So if a person steals credit card numbers from a California resident and travels to another state to make a purchase with the stolen information, it could invite federal prosecution.

Engaging in other federal crimes

The illegal use of a credit card could also involve other federal fraud offenses. Wire fraud happens when someone uses a telecommunication method such as a telephone or the internet to engage in financial fraud. Computer fraud is a similar crime that involves the use of computers. It is possible for criminals to use stolen credit cards in these and other similar crimes.

Federal fraud crimes can carry prison sentences as high as 30 years. Knowing the circumstances of your case is important as you might discover whether federal charges against you have any merit.