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Understanding the criminal offense of refund fraud in Georgia

On Behalf of | Feb 6, 2024 | Criminal Defense, Theft

There are various reasons why you’d return an item you’ve purchased in a store for a refund. Perhaps you’re suffering from buyer’s remorse. If it was an article of clothing, maybe the item didn’t quite fit you as you thought it initially would. Or perhaps the item didn’t match what you saw in advertisements.

Merchants must accept refunds, but some consumers would abuse this system to make a bit of profit. Georgia considers this a criminal offense called refund fraud.

What is refund fraud?

According to Georgia law, refund fraud occurs when someone deceitfully obtains a refund for goods they didn’t purchase. Typically, a store would ask that a customer making a refund present some form of identification (usually their driver’s license) and proof of purchase. Presenting somebody else’s ID or posing as another person for a refund violates the law.

The legal consequences of refund fraud

The penalties for refund fraud depend on the value of the returned items, similar to the punishments for theft offenses. They include:

  • Property returned is $500 or less: The offense is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and $1,000 in fines.
  • Property returned exceeds $500: The offense is a felony. The convicted faces prison time from one to 10 years.

The penalties for refund fraud can also become more severe if the items being returned came from multiple separate stores.

If you’re accused of refund fraud, it’s essential to understand your rights and the legal process. Consider seeking legal counsel experienced in theft and fraud cases to navigate the complexities of your situation.