As it has become easier to steal someone’s identity – generally to profit off of it in some way – the law has been catching up to better address the many ways this can be done and to appropriately penalize those convicted of engaging in this form of misconduct. For example, Oklahoma has a law titled “Receiving money or property intended for individual personated” that refers to false personation. Basically, this is the same thing as impersonation.
The law states that a person who “falsely personates another, and in such assumed character receives any money or property, that knowing it is intended to be delivered to the individual so personated, with intent to convert the same to his own use, or to that of another person who is not entitled thereto” is guilty of false personation. The jury instructions for this offense note that prosecutors must prove all of these elements in their case.
Consider an example. Maybe you’re house sitting and you find one of the homeowner’s credit cards. You use their credit card information to order something online for yourself and have it sent to their house while you’re still there without their permission. Of course, this can be done on a much larger scale by those who make a career out of stealing people’s credit card, bank account and other information.
Penalties increase with the amount stolen
The criminal penalties for false personation are dependent on the value of the assets or amount of money involved. If the value is less than $1,000, the offense is charged as a misdemeanor. However, it can still result in a jail sentence as well as a fine.
If the amount is $1,000 or higher, it qualifies as a felony. The length of incarceration and other specific penalties involve rise with the dollar amount. For example, if the value of the assets is $15,000 or higher, a person who’s convicted can face an eight-year prison sentence and a $10,000 fine.
All sorts of activity fall under “false impersonation.” Many of them can be carried out without leaving your computer. It can make it easy to believe this is a victimless crime – or maybe that the only victim in the end is a large corporation that can afford a loss. However, the law doesn’t see it that way.
If you find yourself charged with this offense, it’s critical that you understand this law and what actions fall under it. It’s also critical that you get experienced legal guidance to protect your rights and make the best decisions on how to proceed as you construct your defense strategy.