A volunteer firefighter with the Columbia County Fire Department was arrested on March 7 for allegedly using an agency fuel credit card to pay for more than $7,500 worth of gas for his personal vehicle and his friends’ vehicles.
The 19-year-old Lake City, Florida man was charged with grand theft and fraudulent use of a credit card.
According to the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, 181 fraudulent transactions were made using the fuel card, which was apparently reported stolen from a fire department vehicle on March 2 after a number of charges were allegedly made on the card.
Police claim they identified the volunteer firefighter as the suspect after apparently viewing surveillance footage from gas stations.
The man was held on $21,000 bond.
Florida has very specific laws set in place to protect the public against credit card fraud. A misdemeanor or felony credit card fraud offense can be charged when someone is accused of signing, taking, forging, using, obtaining, selling or buying someone else’s credit card, debit card or account information. Simply put, knowingly using a stolen, expired, altered, counterfeited, forged or revoked credit card will likely result in theft charges. It’s very important to recognize that while credit card fraud is charged as either petty or grand theft, you could also face forgery and identity theft charges. As you may or may not know, grand theft is classified in Florida as any theft totaling more than $300. It can be a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison if the total falls under $5,000, but if the theft is more than $5,000 it can be labeled a second or first-degree felony.
The Florida Credit Card Fraud Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can help you understand the complex legal issues that arise following charges of grand theft and fraudulent use of a credit card. By initially investigating the circumstances involved, we can often uncover flaws and irregularities in the government’s case that may help protect your legal rights. State and federal agencies may pursue cases of credit card fraud, however usually these cases are prosecuted by the U.S. Secret Service. Many of these typed of theft-related charges require the prosecution to prove there was intent to commit fraud. For many accused of credit card fraud, this is their best chance at avoiding a conviction.