Access Device Fraud


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Knowingly misusing a credit card to defraud someone may be a one-time mistake that you deeply regret afterward. But if you take somebody else’s access device, usually a debit or credit card, and use it to make purchases and/or unauthorized bank withdrawals without their permission, you can be prosecuted in either Pennsylvania or federal court.

What You Need To Know About Federal Access Device Fraud

It is illegal to use an access device to obtain, or try to obtain, another person’s money, property or services without their permission. Federal law covers crimes that involve:

  • Credit cards
  • Debit cards
  • ATM cards
  • Computer passwords
  • Personal identification numbers
  • Credit or debit card numbers
  • Long distance access codes
  • Subscriber Identity Modules (SIMs) in cell phones

The Secret Service is the primary federal agency charged with investigating access device fraud.

If you are convicted, your sentence can include as many as 10 years in a federal penitentiary and fines up to $250,000. Your actual sentence will be determined by the circumstances of your case and federal sentencing guidelines.

State Versus Federal

The federal court system is complex, and its procedures are significantly different from those in the Pennsylvania court system. One of the biggest contrasts is that the federal court system uses unique, complicated sentencing guidelines to decide how someone convicted of a federal crime will be punished.

Another difference is that federal prosecutors can draw on extensive resources, including the results of lengthy investigations conducted by federal agents. Philadelphia area prosecutors do not have those kinds of resources available to them.

If you have been charged with a federal crime, you are probably facing more severe consequences than if you had been charged by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

How A Lawyer Will Help

When you are up against a fraud charge, you will be facing inflexible laws and a determined US prosecutor. You will need an attorney who can help you determine all of your options and achieve the best outcome for your circumstances.

United States Code

Read more about federal criminal offenses in the United States Code.

Questions? Contact us today.

If you are charged with a federal crime, the consequences can be devastating. Fienman Defense will fight tenaciously to protect your constitutional rights. We will guide you through a court system that can be complex and intimidating, and provide you with the strongest possible defense.