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identity theft, Skokie criminal defense lawyerAn Illinois man was recently given five years in prison for a series of identity theft schemes and failing to pay taxes. The convicted individual used other people’s credit card accounts without their consent or knowledge to purchase over $40,000 worth of goods at major retail stores. He was previously charged with related crimes in Wisconsin and Indiana. Some might call this man lucky. Identity theft schemes can result in up to ten years’ imprisonment and some large-scale operations have resulted in sentences as high as 30 years.

What Is Identity Theft?

Identity theft or identity fraud refers to crimes in which a person uses another individual’s personal information for their own financial gain. In many cases, this could mean using another person’s social security number, banking information, or credit card to make purchases. Individuals who commit these crimes may have watched a person enter a credit card or bank number over their shoulder, taken a picture of a credit card, or listened in on a phone conversation in which personal financial information was discussed. Another form of identity theft may occur when an individual responds to “spam” email which requests personal information such as passwords or banking account numbers. These emails may be disguised as official correspondence from a legitimate company or organization, but, in reality, are fraudulent.

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Posted on in Identity Theft

identity theft, Skokie criminal defense attorneyThe fraudulent use of credit cards and bank accounts is as old as credit cards and bank accounts. However, the rise of internet connectivity has made identity theft crimes even more common. Illinois recognizes several different types of identity-related white collar crimes.

Types of Identity Theft Crimes

There are four major types of crimes related to stealing another person's identity in Illinois:

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white-collar crime, 2008 recession, Illinois criminal defense attorney In the wake of the 2008 economic recession, many politicians began to speak out against the seemingly unjust laws that allowed for the white-collar criminals who perpetuated the crash to walk free. Banks themselves were deemed “too big to fail,” meaning that the executives who manufactured the crash through unsavory business practices that left many American families bankrupt never faced retribution for their crimes. In the vast majority of cases, corporations were slapped with legal fines—most of which registered minutely, if at all, on corporate profit and loss statements—but most individuals behind the actions were never even questioned in court. In large part, this is because the unsavory behavior was not technically illegal, and no legal structure is currently in place to aggressively pursue the individuals who act on behalf of corporations. This could be changing.

In mid-September, the U.S. Justice Department announced that it was issuing new guidelines to pursue white-collar criminals, in which they personally—and not only their company—would face retribution. The Justice Department said in a memo that these new laws were in direct response to criticism that the Obama administration had not done enough in the wake of the 2008 recession to pursue punishment for the individuals responsible.

Furthermore, the new guidelines do not allow for corporate executives to pass the buck. The law does not allow for low-level employees to take the blame for a corporation accused of criminal wrongdoing. The Justice Department asserts that, even when a corporation offers a ‘fall-man,’ the company itself—and its high level executives—will also be held accountable.

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