A 63-year-old man (name withheld to protect the anonymity of the accused) was arrested recently for having cheated customers at his Menlo Park Laundromat, Menalto Cleaners. It is suspected that the man used credit cards and other personal information that he received from his customers in good faith to skim both small and large amounts of money from each individual. He has been charged with stealing from upwards of 3-dozen different customers (approximately $678,000) by overcharging them for laundry services, which amounts to 40 felony counts for identity theft, credit card fraud, and others.
California courts take charges of credit card fraud very seriously (CA Penal Code 484e-484j). It is unlawful in California to participate in any type of illegal behavior relating to credit cards or personal information that an individual might find on a credit card. Prosecutors must, however, prove that you intended to use this information for fraudulent purposes, and that you unlawfully gained some advantage (financial or otherwise) due to your actions.
Depending on the particular circumstances of your case, if you are convicted of a violation of one of the above-listed laws, you may be prosecuted in several different ways. Your situation may be treated as ‘forgery,’ in which you may end up spending up to 16 months in county jail and paying a maximum fine of $10,000. Of course, prosecutors could also treat your case as theft. Additionally, federal agents may become involved under certain conditions.