In Georgia, identity fraud is one of the most common white collar crimes committed. In general, it is a crime where one person uses another person’s personal data, without his/her authorization, with the intent to defraud that person. Such examples include, but are not limited to:
- Opening a credit card using someone else’s social security number;
- Presenting stolen checks to a business in order to purchase items;
- Opening a credit card using a deceased person’s social security number;
- Purchasing items with a stolen ATM card
More specifically, according to O.C.G.A. § 16-9-121, in Georgia, a person commits the offense of identity fraud when he/she intentionally and without the person’s consent acts in one of the following ways:
- Uses or possesses identifying information of any of the following people: a minor child that the accused has custodial authority of, any deceased person, or any other person in which the accused has the intent to defraud;
- Creates, uses, or possesses any counterfeit or fake identifying information of a person who does not exist in order to facilitate the commission of a fraud against a victim;
- Creates, uses, or possesses any counterfeit or fake identifying information of a person, who does in fact exist, for the purpose of defrauding that person; OR
- Receiving fraudulent identification information from a third party if the accused knows it to be fraudulent, stolen, or counterfeit.
It is important to note that a person under the age of 21 years old cannot be prosecuted under this code section for using a fraudulent, counterfeit, or otherwise, fake I.D. for the purposes of entering an adult establishment, such as a bar, or by attempting to purchase alcohol.
In Georgia, identity fraud is classified as a felony offense. According to O.C.G.A. § 16-9-126, if an accused is convicted of identity fraud in Georgia, he/she could be sentenced anywhere from 1-10 years in prison. After a conviction, the court also has the discretion to impose a fine upon the accused of up to $100,000 and could order the accused to also pay restitution to the victim. Such victim could either be a consumer or a business. Furthermore, a subsequent conviction of identity fraud enhances the punishment to 3-15 years in prison and a fine up to $250,000. Similar as to a first conviction of identity fraud, the judge may also order the accused to pay restitution.
Due to the severity of the punishment for identity fraud convictions, it is of vital importance to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to defend you against such allegations. At the Law Offices of W. Scott Smith, our lawyers are trained to know all affirmative defenses for the offense of identity fraud, as well as all possible options for an accused dealing with such a serious charge. Therefore, if you or a loved one has been arrested for identity fraud, please call our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.