Local law enforcement authorities claim that 3 individuals (ranging in age from 25 to 29-years-old – names withheld in order to protect the privacy of the accused) have been caught running a small identity theft scam out of the Larkspur Landing Hotel in Pleasanton. While investigating a stolen car out of Haywood, police were led to search certain related Larkspur rooms and found stolen credit cards along with computers, an embossing machine, small amounts of narcotics and some stolen property, including the personal mail of at least 10 different individuals. The 3 have been officially charged with suspected identity theft, probation violations, and possession of illegal drugs.
According to the California Penal Code 530.5, any theft of another person’s personal information for the purposes of using that information in order to commit fraud or for some other illegal purpose is considered a serious crime. In fact, some would argue that California has the highest rate of identity theft in the United States. This particular violation of the law is technically a ‘wobbler,’ meaning that it is up to prosecutors as to whether they will treat it as a misdemeanor or as a felony; this depends on the unique set of facts involved in each case. Penalties are, of course, different for a misdemeanor identity theft conviction and a felony conviction of the same type. For example, if you are convicted of a misdemeanor, you may face 1 year in county jail and a $1,000 fine. However, a felony identity theft conviction could end in up to 3 years in county jail and a fine of $10,000. It is helpful to remember that the above listed penalties only pertain to the state of California. There is also the possibility that you could be charged with a federal crime as well and this may mean incarceration in a federal prison for a maximum of 30 years.