There are a number of different type of fraudulent acts that can occur. One of these is identity theft. This is a criminal act on the federal level, as well as the state level. In a nutshell, identity theft occurs when one person uses another person's information for financial or any other gain without the other person's permission.
The Department of Justice notes that identity theft has officially been illegal since the passage of the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act in 1998. Before then, there wasn't a comprehensive description or official term of identity theft. Instead, prosecutions had to rely on other laws and try to fit the crime into those laws.
Identity theft can occur in a host of different methods. A person's information might be taken in an effort to apply for credit cards or to open other credit accounts. In some cases, the information is used to get medical care, which is one form of health care fraud. Some identity theft involves stealing money out of a person's existing financial accounts.
The victims of identity theft are often the ones who alert authorities to the crimes. They might notice odd entries on their credit report or they might notice strange charges on their financial accounts.
People who are charged with identity theft often face very difficult cases. In many cases, there is paper trail that the prosecution can use in an effort to get a conviction. This means that the defendants have to work quickly to identify weaknesses in the case or areas that they can introduce doubt. They can then take time to build up the defense with those aspects in mind.
Source: United States Department of Justice, "Identity Theft," accessed March 30, 2017