Under NRS 205.760, the Nevada crime of credit or debit card fraud is defined as intentionally misusing card information to the financial detriment of another person or entity. Most credit and debit card offenses are prosecuted as category D felonies.
Common types of credit card fraud are:
- Possessing another person’s credit or debit card without consent in Nevada
- Using a credit or debit card that has been revoked or expired
- Lying on a credit or debit card application
Most credit card fraud cases are prosecuted as a category D felony in Nevada. The punishment carries:
However, a defense attorney may able to convince the D.A. to sign off on a Nevada plea bargain where the charge reduces to a Nevada misdemeanor or possibly a dismissal. Three common defenses to fraud charges include:
- The defendant had no intent to defraud;
- The defendant was a victim of mistaken identity; and/or
- The police committed an illegal search in Nevada
In this article, our Las Vegas Nevada criminal defense attorneys discuss the following credit card fraud topics:
1. Definition of credit card fraud in Nevada
The Nevada crime of credit (or debit) card fraud occurs when someone intentionally uses — or attempts to use — a credit (or debit) card in an unlawful manner. Any deliberate act of forging, altering, stealing or otherwise misusing a debit or credit card qualifies as fraud in Nevada. Henderson criminal defense attorney Michael Becker provides some illustrations:
Example: Allen gets his Nevada Energy bill in the mail. On the bill he writes his MasterCard information and mails it back to the electric company. Allen knows that his MasterCard has been canceled, but he wants to try to use it to pay his bill anyway. Since Allen deliberately used a canceled MasterCard with intent to defraud the electric company, he could be liable for fraud.
Example: Tyler fills out an application for an American Express card. In the application he intentionally inflates his minimum-wage salary in Nevada and lies about not having any debt. Since Tyler lied in order to increase his chances of getting an Amex, he could be liable for fraud.
Example: Jean is short on cash, so he secretly takes his roommate’s Discover without permission and goes shopping at the Las Vegas Swap Meet. Since Jean knows he did not have his roommate’s consent, Jean is guilty of fraud. It does not matter if Jean did not end up buying anything — merely possessing another person’s debit or credit card without permission is fraud.
In all, there are ten main types of credit (or debit) card fraud in Nevada, including:
- Knowingly using a revoked, expired, stolen, or forged credit card1
- Lying to a credit card issuer in order to get a credit card2
- Possessing another person’s credit card without their consent3
- Buying or selling a credit card4
- Selling telephone calling card information5
- Wrongfully using a credit card to secure a debt6
- Forging a credit card7
- Signing a credit card receipt without authorization8
- Possessing equipment to make credit cards9
- Knowingly receiving property or services from the unlawful use of credit cards10
In recent years there has been a rise in a type of fraud called “skimming.” Credit card skimming is where people hide a “wedge” device in a card reader — then when the cardholder swipes the card, the wedge steals (“skims”) the magnetic information off the back of cards.11 Skimming is especially common in gas station card readers.
Note that potential creditors can be guilty of fraud as well. It is illegal to accept payment on credit with the knowledge that the card is forged, stolen, or revoked.12
Example: Sam works as a clerk at a grocery store. His friend Tom comes in and wants to purchase a soda using a fake Visa Tom created. Sam knows that the card is fake but authorizes the transaction anyway. Therefore both Sam and Tom are liable for fraud: Tom for knowingly using a fake Visa, and Sam for knowingly authorizing the transaction with a fake Visa.
It is also illegal for creditors to misrepresent the value of their goods or services to card issuers. An example would be Sam in the above example selling soda for $4 dollars but reporting to the card company that he sells it for $5 in order to pocket an extra dollar.13
1.1 Intent to Defraud
The central element of Nevada fraud crimes is that the defendant had “intent to defraud.” This means that the defendant deliberately tried to use a credit card — or the information on a card — for the purpose of tricking the cardholder, creditor, or card company out of money.
In order for a defendant to be convicted in Nevada of credit (or debit) card fraud, the D.A. has the burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant had “intent to defraud.” However, there are some situations where the court may presume that the defendant had “intent to defraud.”14 These situations include the following:
- If the defendant tries to use the card, and the creditor or issuer refuses payment.15
- If the defendant possesses two (2) or more cards that are falsely made or embossed or in the names of other people.16
- If the defendant uses a card four (4) or more days after the issuer mailed out a notice of revocation17
1.2. Federal credit card fraud crimes
Credit card fraud is also a federal crime.18 Various agencies investigate allegations of federal credit fraud, including:
- the National Fraud Information Center (NFIC),
- the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and
- the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
Prosecutors typically bring federal credit fraud charges in the following situations:
- The fraud was committed against a federal governmental entity, or
- The fraud was committed on federal government property, or
- The fraud crossed state lines.
A defendant may face fraud charges in either Nevada state court or Nevada federal court — or in both courts — depending on the case.
2. Penalties for credit card fraud in Nevada
Most types of credit and debit card fraud are prosecuted as category D felonies. The punishment includes:
- One to four (1 -- 4) years in prison, and
- possibly up to $5,000 in fines, and
- restitution to the victim
Note that it is a gross misdemeanor in Nevada to intentionally put false information in an application for a line of credit. The sentence includes:
- Up to 364 days in jail, and/or
- Up to $2,000 in fines19
2.1. Using expired or revoked cards
Knowingly using an expired or revoked credit or debit card can be a felony or a misdemeanor depending on the amount bought. Using an expired or revoked credit/debit card to buy less than $100 within a six (6)-month period is a misdemeanor in Nevada carrying:
- Up to six (6) months in jail, and/or
- Up to $1,000 in fines
Otherwise, using an expired or revoked credit/debit card is a category D felony in Nevada, carrying:
- one to four (1 -- 4) years in prison, and
- possibly up to $5,000 in fines, and
- restitution to the victim20
2.2. Federal “credit card fraud” penalties
Under federal law, the punishment for credit card fraud is up to 20 years in Federal Prison depending on the circumstances of the case. The court may also impose hefty fines as well as restitution.21
3. Fighting credit card fraud charges in Nevada
Fighting credit and debit card fraud charges in Nevada usually involves using one or more of the following defenses:
- No intent to fraud,
- Mistaken identity, or
- Illegal police search
In cases that go to trial, the prosecution has the burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If the state has insufficient evidence to meet this burden, the defendant should be acquitted.22
Note that it is not a defense that the victim(s) did not end up losing money.
3.1. The defendant had no intent to defraud
The most common defense in all debit or credit card fraud charges is that the defendant had no “intent to defraud.” This means that the defendant did not deliberately try to misuse the card.
Example: Ann and Mike are roommates in Las Vegas. One day while rushing to leave the house, Ann mistakenly grabs Mike’s Capital One card instead of her own. Throughout the day Anne swipes Mike’s Capital One at a gas station, a parking meter, and a grocery checkout line. Even though Mike did not give Ann permission to use the Capital One, Ann is not guilty of fraud.
Ann in the above example grabbed Mike’s Capital One by mistake, and she had no idea she was swiping his card when making her daily purchases. Therefore, Ann had no “intent to defraud” Mike, Capital One, or the merchants. Of course, Ann is civilly liable to pay back Mike for the purchases.
3.2. The defendant is a victim of mistaken identity
A standard defense to fraud is that the police arrested the wrong person. Often there are no eyewitnesses to fraudulent conduct, and the real culprit may try to frame an innocent person. If the prosecution cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is the person who committed the alleged fraud, the fraud charges should be dismissed.
3.3. The police committed an illegal search
Police investigations often involve searches of the suspect’s home, office, or his/her computer files. If the police conducted an illegal search — such as by not getting a Nevada search warrant — the defendant may have legal recourse in Nevada:
The defense attorney can file a Nevada motion to suppress evidence with the court. This motion explains to the court how the police search was unlawful. This motion also asks the court to throw out any evidence found through the unlawful search. If the court agrees and grants the motion, then the D.A. may be left with insufficient evidence to pursue fraud charges in Nevada.
4. Sealing a credit card fraud case in Nevada
The waiting period for sealing past fraud convictions depends on whether they were felonies, gross misdemeanors, or misdemeanors:
Debit or credit card fraud crime
Waiting period to get a record seal
|Category D felony (the majority of cases)||5 years after the case ends|
|Gross misdemeanor||2 years after the case ends|
|Misdemeanor||1 year after the case ends23|
|Dismissal (no conviction)||No waiting period24|
Learn more about sealing criminal records in Nevada.
5. Immigration consequences for credit card fraud in Nevada
Credit card fraud may be considered a crime involving moral turpitude in Nevada. There5ore, it is possible that non-citizens convicted of credit card fraud are vulnerable to deportation.24
Every immigrant facing Nevada criminal charges should consult with an attorney about trying to get their case dismissed or reduced to a non-removable offense. Learn about the criminal defense of immigrants in Nevada.
6. Related offenses
6.1. Obtaining money by false pretenses
The Nevada crime of obtaining money by false pretenses occurs when people knowingly misrepresent themselves to get money from someone relying on their misrepresentation. Penalties depend on the amount of money stolen.26
6.2. Identity theft
Nevada identity theft crimes involve using another person’s identifying information unlawfully or without that person’s authorization. The penalties depend on the specific facts of the case.
The typical ID theft case is prosecuted as a category B felony, carrying:
- one to twenty (1 -- 20) years in prison, and
- possibly a $100,000 fine, and
But the minimum prison term is raised to three (3) years if either:
- the victim was 60 years old or older or a “vulnerable” person under Nevada law;
- there were five (5) or more victims;
- a victim lost at least $3,000; or
- the defendant was avoiding prosecution of a Nevada category A felony or category B felony
Meanwhile, committing ID theft to avoid or delay being prosecuted for an unlawful act is punished slightly less harshly as a category C felony in Nevada, carrying:
- one to five (1 -- 5) years in prison, and
- possibly a $10,000 fine, and
6.3. Insurance fraud
The Nevada crime of insurance fraud typically involves lying to an insurer in order to obtain benefits the person is not eligible for. It is usually a category D felony carrying:
- one to four (1 -- 4) years in prison,
- possibly up to $5,000 in fines,
- costs to reimburse the Nevada Attorney General’s Office for its investigation and prosecution, and
- possible denial of future benefits28
Return to our main page on Nevada fraud crimes.
Arrested in California? Go to our information page on California credit card fraud law.
Arrested in Colorado? Go to our information page on Colorado credit card fraud law.
- NRS 205.760 Fraudulent use of credit card or debit card, or identifying description of credit account or debit card; presumption of knowledge of revocation of credit card or debit card.
- NRS 205.680 False statement to procure issuance of credit card or debit card.
Any person who, for the purpose of procuring the issuance of a credit card or debit card, makes or causes to be made, either directly or indirectly, any false statement in writing, knowing it to be false, with intent that it be relied on respecting his or her identity or financial condition or the identity or financial condition of any other person, firm or corporation is guilty of a gross misdemeanor.
- NRS 205.690 Obtaining or possessing credit card or debit card, or identifying description of credit card, credit account or debit card without consent of cardholder; presumption from possession; exemptions.
- NRS 205.710 Sale or purchase of credit card or debit card, or identifying description of credit card, debit card or credit account; exemptions.
- NRS 205.715 Sale of identifying information on telephone calling card.
- NRS 205.720 Obtaining control of credit card or debit card as security for debt. A person who, with the intent to defraud, obtains control over a credit card or debit card as security for debt is guilty of a category D felony and shall be punished as provided in NRS 193.130. In addition to any other penalty, the court shall order the person to pay restitution.
- NRS 205.740 Forgery of credit card or debit card; presumption from possession.
- NRS 205.750 Unauthorized signing of credit card, debit card or related document with intent to defraud. A person, except the cardholder or a person authorized by the cardholder, who signs a credit card, debit card, sales slip, sales draft or instrument for the payment of money which evidences a credit card or debit card transaction with the intent to defraud is guilty of a category D felony and shall be punished as provided in NRS 193.130. In addition to any other penalty, the court shall order the person to pay restitution.
- NRS 205.790 Possession of incomplete credit cards or debit cards or equipment to produce cards.
- NRS 205.800 Receiving property or services obtained by unlawful use of credit card or debit card; presumption of knowledge.1. A person who receives money, property, goods, services or anything of value obtained in violation of NRS 205.760, knowing or believing that the money, property, goods, services or other things of value were so obtained, is guilty of a category D felony and shall be punished as provided in NRS 193.130.2. A person who obtains at a discount price from a source other than the issuing company a ticket issued by an airline, railroad, steamship or other transportation company and acquired in violation of NRS 205.760 under such circumstances as to cause a reasonable person to believe that the ticket was obtained in violation of this section is presumed to know that the ticket was obtained in violation of NRS 205.760.
- Jennifer Hurtado, Henderson police warns residents of increased card ‘skimming’ scheme, Fox-5 KVVU (March 7, 2018).
- NRS 205.770 Fraud by person authorized to provide goods or services: Furnishing goods or services upon presentation of credit card or debit card illegally obtained or possessed. A person who is authorized by an issuer to furnish money, goods, services or anything else of value upon presentation of a credit card or debit card by the cardholder, or an agent or employee of the authorized person, who, with the intent to defraud, furnishes money, goods, property, services or anything else of value upon presentation of a credit card or debit card that the person, employee or agent knows was obtained or retained in violation of NRS 205.690 to 205.750, inclusive, or is forged, expired or revoked is guilty of a category D felony and shall be punished as provided in NRS 193.130. In addition to any other penalty, the court shall order the person to pay restitution.
- NRS 205.780 Fraud by person authorized to provide goods or services: Misrepresentation to issuer. A person who is authorized by an issuer to furnish money, goods, property, services or anything of value upon presentation of a credit card or debit card by the cardholder, or an agent or employee of the authorized person, who, with the intent to defraud, misrepresents to the issuer the value of the goods the person furnishes or who fails to furnish money, goods, property, services or anything else of value which the person represents in writing to the issuer that he or she has furnished is guilty of a category D felony and shall be punished as provided in NRS 193.130. In addition to any other penalty, the court shall order the person to pay restitution.
- Brackeen v. State, 763 P.2d 59, 104 Nev. 547 (1988)(This presumption of “intent to defraud” is not conclusive; judges and juries are not required to presume that the defendant has intent to defraud.)
- NRS 205.765 In a criminal action for using a credit card or debit card to obtain money, goods, property, services or anything of value with insufficient money or property with which to pay for the extension of credit, with intent to defraud, that intent and the knowledge that the holder of the credit card has insufficient money or property is presumed to exist if payment is refused by the issuer or other creditor when it is presented in the usual course of business, unless within 5 days after payment is refused by the issuer if the action involves the use of a debit card or within 10 days after payment is refused by the issuer if the action involves the use of a credit card, the holder of the credit card pays the full amount due plus any handling charges.
- NRS 205.690; NRS 205.740 Forgery of credit card or debit card; presumption from possession.
- NRS 205.760.
- 18 U.S. Code § 1029 -- Fraud and related activity in connection with access devices
- NRS 205.680.
- NRS 205.760.
- 18 U.S. Code § 1029.
- Moore v. State, 122 Nev. 27, 126 P.3d 508 (2006)(“[P]resentment alone of a stolen credit card is not sufficient to establish fraudulent use of a credit card.”); Jezdik v. State, 121 Nev. 129, 110 P.3d 1058 (2005)(“This defect of proof is not harmless because the State otherwise failed to place Jezdik at Vons on May 6, 2001, a fact crucial to proving fraudulent use of a credit card and burglary.”)
- NRS 179.245.
- NRS 179.255.
- 8 U.S. Code § 1227; Mancilla-Delafuente v. Lynch, 804 F.3d 1262 (9th Cir. 2015)(“Nev. Rev. Stat. § 205.690(2) criminalizes “possess[ion of] a credit card or debit card without the consent of the cardholder and with the intent to circulate, use, sell or transfer the credit card or debit card with the intent to defraud.” Thus, in order to be convicted under the statute, the state must show a person acted with the intent to defraud. Accordingly, we affirm the BIA’s finding that a violation of Nev. Rev. Stat. § 205.690(2) is a categorical CIMT.”).
- NRS 205.380.
- NRS 205.463.
- NRS 686A.2815.