Six people are facing federal theft charges in Alabama after prosecutors say they schemed to steal $600,000 in an identity theft scam.
Our Birmingham criminal defense lawyers know that theft crimes are becoming increasingly sophisticated. What many people are learning is that it tends to be much easier - not to mention safer and more profitable - to commit a theft through fraud or forgery than by physically taking property on the street.
However, because these types of theft crimes tend to be more profitable, they are also punished more severely. In this case, federal authorities have taken over because of the scope of the operation, and the fact that you had multiple parties allegedly conspiring to commit these acts.
When federal charges are filed, the stakes can be higher because penalties tend to be more severe than in state courts. We're talking potentially decades behind bars.
That's why if you are arrested on a charges of fraud or identify theft in Alabama, you must seek a skilled attorney as soon as possible.
In this case, the six individuals involved, who range in age from 30 to 48, were accused of setting up a phony mailbox at a Montgomery post office. A postal service employee would redirect mail, which included mail containing credit cards, to the dummy mailbox. Then, certain members of the operation would pick up the mail and deliver it to a point person.
That person would then send the information to his contacts, who would run credit reports on the individuals whose names were on those credit cards. This would give the defendants access to a host of identifying information, which the members then used to activate the cards and then withdraw cash advances.
Well over a half-a-million dollars was reportedly stolen this way.
The defendants, from Alabama and Georgia, are facing charges of bank fraud, identity theft and wire fraud. If convicted, they could potentially receive up to 30 years in prison, plus be required to pay a fine of up to $1 million.
Federal prosecutors say this is not an isolated case. In fact, a recent study conducted by ID Analytics found that the metro Montgomery area has one of the greatest concentrations of identify fraud rings in the country. Birmingham isn't far behind.
Back in 1998, Congress passed the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act, under 18 U.S.C. 1028, which makes it a federal crime to commit identity theft.
The U.S. attorney's office has vowed to be aggressive in taking down these operations, so we can likely expect many more such arrests.
Those facing identity theft charges have several tacks they can take with regard to their defense.
One of the main reasons cases like this get dropped is due to insufficient evidence. It requires an enormous amount of evidence to prove you are guilty of this crime, particularly when so many others were involved.
Additionally, there may be a way to show that entrapment was involved in your arrest or that you simply have been misidentified.
At the end of the day, it's up to the prosecutor to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. We are committed to making sure that doesn't happen.
Contact Birmingham Criminal Defense Attorney Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.
6 Indicted in Identify Theft Ring, Nov. 29, 2012, By Scott Johnson, Prattville Progress
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Multiple Birmingham Burglaries Pinned on Defendant, Nov. 5, 2012, Birmingham Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog