As readers in Memphis, Tennessee, know, crimes such as credit card fraud and identity theft are not all that uncommon these days due to advancements in technology. A recent case involves 18 people and allegedly included over $200 million in assets.

This is exactly the case that occurred recently when authorities brought federal charges against 18 suspects who they believe stole over $200 million through credit card fraud. The suspects are accused of using thousands of fake identities and fraudulent addresses to obtain credit cards. It is also alleged that they open fake businesses in order to obtain credit cards as well.

Authorities believe that group began its operations back in 2007 and that they used the credit cards to purchase real estate, gold and other luxury items. Agents reportedly found almost $80,000 in cash during one of their searches.

The defendants have now been charged with bank fraud, a federal crime. According to the statute, if convicted, they could each face up to 30 years in prison and up to $1 million in fines.

As this story shows, being convicted of a federal crime can have serious and long-term consequences. Punishment for fraud can be severe and long lasting. Aside from a long-term prison sentence and extraordinary fines, defendants charged with fraud should also be concerned about having a criminal record as a felon should they be convicted.

It is therefore important for those charged with federal crimes to know their legal rights and defenses. In many cases, defenses are available that can help reduce the length of a potential sentence.

Source: NBC News, “Feds: 18 charged in $200M global credit card fraud,” Katie Zezima, Feb. 5, 2013