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California woman accepts plea deal in identity theft case

In a plea agreement that was negotiated by her defense attorney with a U.S. prosecutor, a 36-year-old woman from San Francisco admitted to using identity information stolen from multiple credit card and debit card accounts to create new accounts. From February to July 2014, she opened credit accounts at a number of financial institutions in other people's names without their knowledge or permission.

According to the prosecutor, she filled out applications on the internet for 42 credit cards with other people's personal information. Authorities obtained evidence that she made purchases under at least two stolen names.

For access device fraud and aggravated identity theft, she received a sentence of 40 months in prison. After release, she will be under supervision for another 36 months and required to pay restitution to her victims. Her plea deal stated that she accepted responsibility for in excess of $30,000 in actual losses to victims.

Computer crimes such as these normally fall into the category of federal crimes prosecuted by the U.S. government instead of at the state level. A person confronted by federal criminal charges might gain guidance and a defense strategy with representation from an attorney who has experience with the federal court system. An attorney could evaluate the strength of the government's case and potentially challenge weak evidence. This effort might result in the reduction or dismissal of charges. Conversations with a prosecutor about a plea bargain could also be handled by an attorney. With an attorney's advice, the defendant might learn whether the terms of a plea deal represent a positive outcome.

Source: San Francisco Patch, "Identity Theft Leads To Federal Prison", April 3, 2107

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