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What to do when accused of online identity theft

On Behalf of | Jan 22, 2024 | Firm News

As cases of online identity theft rise in Florida, law enforcement moves to intensify its efforts to track down and apprehend culprits. Cases involving high amounts of money are more likely to gain their focus. Between these arrests, sometimes innocent individuals are caught in the crossfire and face false accusations. With the threat of imprisonment looming, taking prompt action becomes crucial.

What is online identity theft?

In Florida, identity theft involves the intentional and illegal use of another person’s sensitive information. Although such theft can happen offline, advances in technology have allowed culprits to use sophisticated internet tools to obtain and exploit other people’s data.

Online identity theft may manifest in various forms, such as:

  • Using another person’s credit card information to purchase items or services online
  • Impersonating someone else on social media
  • Accessing and taking control of another person’s online accounts, such as their email or social media accounts
  • Assuming another person’s identity to gain employment

The penalties for identity theft are severe. Offenders can face a felony charge, punishable by up to five years in prison, five years of probation and up to $5,000 in fines. Identity theft crimes involving over $5,000 or those that compromise the personal information of over 10 but less than 20 individuals may receive harsher penalties. The minimum prison sentence increases to 10 years, and fines may reach up to $15,000.

Immediate steps to take

Facing criminal charges can be unsettling, but it’s important to remain calm and act promptly. One of the most important steps to take is to preserve any evidence that may help demonstrate innocence. These can be records of online activities or correspondence that may reveal a lack of involvement or help identify the true perpetrator.

Second, preparing a solid legal defense will be crucial. Because of the severe consequences, it may be wise to enlist the help of a skilled criminal defense attorney. They can look at every angle of the situation and develop a defense strategy while guiding the accused from making grave errors.

The prevalence of online crime and identity theft cases is pushing prosecutors to pursue convictions aggressively. However, an accusation does not immediately mean a conviction. A strong defense can significantly influence the outcome of a case.