Identity theft is a white-collar crime that involves illegally using, obtaining, or selling another person’s personal identifying information or documents to obtain money, goods, or assets. Personal identifying information includes but is not limited to a person’s:
- Legal name.
- Cellphone number.
- Date of birth.
- Driver’s license number or state identification card.
- Social security number.
- Employment identification number.
- Maiden name.
- Checking, savings, or brokerage account number.
- Credit or debit card information.
- Usernames or passwords related to their personal accounts or information.
Personal identification documents include but are not limited to:
- Birth certificates
- Driver’s licenses or identification cards
- Firearm owner cards
- Social security cards
- Credit or debit cards
Legal Definition of Identity Theft
Under Illinois law (720 ILCS 5/16-30), a person commits identity theft when they knowingly:
- Uses someone else’s personal identifying information or documents to obtain credit, money, goods, services, or property
- Uses someone else’s personal identifying information or documents to commit a felony offense
- Obtains, copies, possesses, sells, buys, or manufactures personal identifying documents or information using another person’s information with the intent to commit a felony or with the knowledge the information was illegally obtained
- Uses or possessed a document creation device that can produce fake identification or documents knowingly they will be used to commit a felony
- Uses someone else’s personal identifying information or documents to impersonate the rightful owner without such person’s permission and with the intent to gain access to other information, records, documents, etc.
An Example of Identity Theft
Last August, Boyd Egan pled guilty to bank fraud and identity theft charges and was sentenced to 9 years in federal prison; he must also pay restitution totaling $160,954.54. Beginning in 2019, Egan would hijack someone’s phone and then attempt to or successfully withdraw money from their bank. When he made (or tried to make) withdrawals, he would impersonate the victims.
Egan is believed to have stolen information from 30 people, and he illegally obtained the following information from his victims:
- Dates of birth
- Social security numbers
- Banking information
- Phone numbers (via a SIM swap)
Consequences of Identity Theft in Illinois
In Illinois, the criminal penalties for identity theft are dependent on the value of the money or assets involved in the crime. Offenders can be convicted of a:
- Class 4 felony, if the crime involved less than $300. A Class 4 felony is punishable by a fine of up to $25,000 and up to 3 years in prison.
- Class 3 felony, if the crime involved $300-$2,000. A Class 3 felony is punishable by a fine of up to $25,000 and up to 5 years in prison.
- Class 2 felony, if the crime involved $2,000-$10,000. A Class 2 felony is punishable by a fine of up to $25,000 and up to 7 years in prison.
- Class 1 felony, if the crime involved $10,000-$100,000. A Class 3 felony is punishable by a fine of up to $25,000 and up to 15 years in prison.
- Class X felony, if the crime involved over $100,000. A Class 3 felony is punishable by a fine of up to $25,000 and up to 30 years in prison.
It is important to note that an offender may also be required to pay the victim(s) restitution. The penalties can also be enhanced if the victim of the crime is disabled, a service member, or elderly (60 years of age or older).
A conviction can also affect offenders socially. After completing their sentence, convicted felons can still face the following issues once they are released.
- They can lose their right to own or possess a gun.
- They can lose their professional licenses and have difficulty finding work.
- They may face housing discrimination issues.
- They may not qualify for certain loans.
- They may be rejected from certain colleges or universities.
Our Firm Can Help You
At the Law Office of Steven Fine, our team is known for being competent and compassionate professionals who are dedicated to providing our clients with high-quality legal counsel. Our attorney has decades of experience and can help you develop a personalized defense strategy.
Possible defenses against identity theft charges include but are not limited to:
- Insufficient evidence, arguing that the prosecution cannot prove that you committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt with the evidence they have
- Lack of intent, arguing that you did not intend to use personal identifying information for unlawful or fraudulent purposes
- Illegal search and/or seizure, arguing that the police did not follow proper laws and procedures during your arrest and in obtaining evidence
- Mistaken identity or false arrest, arguing that you have been falsely accused and are not the person who is believed to have committed the crime
- Permission to use personally identifying information, arguing and proving that you had permission from the rightful owner to use their information
If you are facing identity theft charges, reach out to us online or via phone (312) 436-0638.