Using the personal ID of dead individuals is a federal and state crime
Identity theft is a growing problem in America. Online shopping and remote work have become more popular in recent years. But it has only given more opportunities for unscrupulous individuals to steal personal identification and payment card data.
But identity theft isn’t limited to taking and abusing data from living people.
It’s also possible to commit identity theft by fraudulently using a dead person’s identification or payment details. And like identity theft against the living, devious individuals have abused the information of dead people to make purchases, receive services and avoid paying debts fraudulently.
You might think it’s a victimless crime because the person whose information you’re using is long gone. But this stunt can lead to convictions and penalties on both the state and federal levels.
What state law says
Florida law says that anyone who uses the personal information of a dead person (or even a dissolved business) for fraudulent ends is committing a crime.
For small crimes where the fraud perpetrated was less than $5,000 or the accused used the information of less than 10 dead individuals, they can face a third-degree felony when convicted. Third-degree felonies carry a maximum five-year prison sentence.
It becomes a second-degree felony if the fraud committed was over $5,000 or if the accused used the information of more than 10 dead people/businesses. Second-degree felonies are punishable by up to 15 years in jail.
Those whose identity theft involved fraud of $50,000 or stole data from more than 20 but less than 30 dead people/businesses face a first-degree felony if convicted. Those convictions can lead to a maximum 30-year prison sentence or longer if it doesn’t exceed life imprisonment.
For much larger crimes where the fraud perpetrated is $100,000 or more, or if the accused abused the information of 30 or more deceased persons (or dissolved businesses), there’s no upper limit to their possible prison sentence, except that it can’t be lower than 10 years.
What federal law says
Anyone accused of fraudulently using dead people’s information also commits a crime on the federal level. The punishments for violating federal law also combine with the penalties levied by Florida. If convicted on the federal level, the accused can face a maximum of 15 years imprisonment. However, the Department of Justice also noted that identity theft may also involve other violations such as credit card fraud, mail fraud and wire fraud. These federal offenses also carry individual penalties, with prison sentences as high as 30 years.
Even if no one living gets harmed, using the information of a dead person is a crime that can lead to decades in prison. If you are charged with this offense twice on both the state and federal levels, consider speaking with legal counsel to understand your options in court.