Florida gas stations have been the target of thieves trying to steal credit card information through electronic skimmers. These credit card skimmers look like normal credit card slots, but relay the card information to the thief’s computer.
In May 2015, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services released the results of a statewide sweep of more than 7,500 gas stations. The investigation found skimmers were in operation at more than 100 stations, some with more than one per location.
Florida lawmakers recently passed Senate Bill 912 to crack down on this type of theft. Beginning on October 1, 2016, the new law requires gas station operators to take anti-skimmer measures to improve the security of their pumps. The bill also increases the penalties for these crimes.
What does SB 912 change about electronic skimmer laws in Florida?
The new laws increase the penalties for various crimes related to the installation of credit card skimmers at gas pumps. There are two main crimes associated with the use of skimmers:
- The unlawful conveyance of fuel
- Trafficking in counterfeit credit cards
The unlawful conveyance of fuel occurs when credit card skimmers obtain the card information and then use it to purchase fuel for resale on the black market. Before this law took effect, this was a Level 1 third-degree felony. Now, this type of theft will result in second-degree felony charges.
Once the skimmer obtains the credit card information, thieves often use that information to create duplicate cards for their use. The new law bases the criminal charges on how many counterfeit cards or related documents are in your possession. The new, elevated penalties for trafficking in counterfeit credit cards include second-degree felony charges for 5 to 49 counterfeit cards or related documents, and a first-degree felony for 50 or more counterfeit cards.
The penalties for a second-degree felony include up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Penalties for a first-degree felony offense include up to 30 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Where do I go for help if I am accused of installing credit card skimmers?
If you are facing charges for a crime related to installing or operating credit card skimmers or trafficking in counterfeit credit cards, contact a credit card fraud defense attorney as soon as possible.
Depending on the circumstances of your case, we may be able to get the state to dismiss your charges entirely or help you plead to a lower offense or leniency in penalties. Our attorneys have the latest information on these new laws and will use their experience, resources, and knowledge to defend you against these accusations.
Call the attorneys at Goldman Wetzel in St. Petersburg at 727-828-3900 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your situation and learn about your legal options.