Is CO cracking down on identity theft?
Colorado officials recently put together a task force to investigate claims that individuals were using identity theft to defraud the state of hundreds of thousands in unemployment benefits. The initial results led to enough evidence to pursue several cases. Attorney General Phil Weiser announced the state will continue to move forward with additional cases in the near future.
The results of this investigation are in line with a recent report by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) finding Colorado had some of the highest crime rates in the nation. The agency released its findings from a one-year analysis of crime rates throughout the country. They looked at a range of crimes including assault, burglaries, sexual crimes, and identity theft and found the rate of violent crimes in the state has increased by almost 20%. Prosecutors state that they are working to hold as many people as possible accountable for these crimes. According to the federal agency only Pennsylvania, South Dakota, and Utah reported a larger increase in crime compared to Colorado.
Did researchers note any surprises?
The rate of identity theft was one of the more prolific crimes to increase during this time period, more than doubling.
What is identity theft?
Identity theft basically involves the use of one person’s personal information to commit fraud for personal gain. This can happen when an individual’s social security card, birth certificate, immigration documents or driver’s license is compromised. When it comes to identity theft, an individual uses this information to create another driver’s license, open bank accounts or credit cards, or drain the original owner’s financial accounts.
Under Colorado state law, identity theft is a crime of intent. In order to establish that an individual committed identity theft, the prosecution would need to show that the accused knew what they were doing and had the intent to steal another person’s information for personal gain.
What happens when someone is accused of identity theft?
Colorado state law generally considers identity theft a class 4 felony. Penalties can include two to six years imprisonment and up to $500,000 in fines. The court may choose to increase the penalties depending on the situation, such as the presence of prior convictions.
A conviction has consequences long after the accused pays the fine and serves their time. A criminal record can make it difficult to find employment and pursue scholarship opportunities. As a result, it is important to take allegations of identity theft seriously. Defenses are available and can include mistake or a lack of intent. An attorney experienced in this niche area of the law can review your case and discuss your options.