The Crime of Identity Deception

Indianapolis Criminal Defense Attorney Blog:  A look at the Crime of Identity Deception

It has been in the news over and over again recently.  Home Depot, Target, and most recently Anthem.  In this digital age we are living in, it is a constant cat and mouse game between those that hold our personal information and those that seek to gain access to it to use it for illegal purposes.

In recent times, it seems like the people protecting our information have not been able to outsmart the guys trying to use it for bad purposes.  Many of these breaches have included information about us like social security numbers, credit card numbers, date of birth, address etc.  Why is this so dangerous?  Well, the possibilities of what a person could do with that information are endless.

In order to combat these crimes, Indiana has created a number of laws to try to protect the citizens, or at least punish those that take and misuse this information.  One of these such crimes is Identity Deception. In this blog, the Indianapolis Criminal Defense Attorneys at Banks & Brower take a closer look.

Indiana’s statute on Identity deceptions reads as follows:

Except as provided in subsection (c), a person who knowingly or intentionally obtains, possesses, transfers, or uses the identifying information of another person, including the identifying information of a person who is deceased:

(1) without the other person’s consent; and

(2) with intent to:

  • (A) harm or defraud another person;
  • (B) assume another person’s identity; or
  • (C) profess to be another person;

commits identity deception, a Level 6 felony.

However, the offense defined in subsection (a) is a Level 5 felony if:

(1) a person obtains, possesses, transfers, or uses the identifying information of more than one hundred (100) persons;

(2) the fair market value of the fraud or harm caused by the offense is at least fifty thousand dollars ($50,000); or

(3) a person obtains, possesses, transfers, or uses the identifying information of a person who is less than eighteen (18) years of age and is:

  • (A) the person’s son or daughter;
  • (B) a dependent of the person;
  • (C) a ward of the person; or
  • (D) an individual for whom the person is a guardian.

The conduct prohibited in subsections (a) and (b) does not apply to:

(1) a person less than twenty-one (21) years of age who uses the identifying information of another person to acquire an alcoholic beverage;

(2) a minor who uses the identifying information of another person to acquire:

(A) a cigarette, an electronic cigarette, or a tobacco product;

  • (B) a periodical, a videotape, or another communication medium that contains or depicts nudity;
  • (C) admittance to a performance (live or film) that prohibits the attendance of the minor based on age; or
  • (D) an item that is prohibited by law for use or consumption by a minor; or

(3) any person who uses the identifying information for a lawful purpose.

It is not a defense in a prosecution under subsection (a) or (b) that no person was harmed or defrauded.

To summarize if you take the information of another person without their permission (even if the person is dead), and use it or assist another in using in a fraudulent way, then you have committed identity deception and a Level 6 Felony.  This crime gets bumped up to a Level 5 Felony if the number of affected people is more than 100 or the amount of loss to the victims is in excess of $50,000.00.  It also gets bumped up if the person stealing the information is the parent or guardian of the victim.

In addition to the state related charges, if the defendant is involved in a more complex or significant scheme, they may face federal charges.  The federal charges involved are not the subject of this blog, but needless to say, like most federal charges, there is a high likelihood of federal prison if a person is convicted under the federal statutes.

So how does this work?  Unfortunately, many of the individuals involved in these schemes are part of a very complex and diverse network.  Many times the people acquiring the information are then selling it wholesale to one person, who then creates false cards, documents, etc. and sells it to yet another person to use fraudulently.  A number of these organizations are even headquartered by individuals located overseas.

If your information is stolen or been accessed illegally, you should take a number of precautions.  First, cancel and replace any credit cards where the account numbers have been compromised.  Second, if your social security number has been stolen, call the major credit companies and have a password lock put on your credit.  This way, if someone tries to access new lines of credit under your information, they will be denied unless they have the password you have established.  Last, consider having a company monitor your credit.  These third-party organizations will alert you if you have anyone accessing your credit.

In conclusion, Identity Deception is a charge that may be brought against someone who has fraudulently used the information of another.  If you or a loved one has been charged with this Identity Deception or any other crime, contact the Indianapolis Criminal Defense Attorneys at Banks & Brower at (317) 870-0019, 24 hours a day to assess your situation and discuss hiring an attorney.