A South Bay business owner is being charged with seven counts of misdemeanor identity theft after allegedly double-charging customers who wrote negative online reviews of his companies.
According to reports, Steve Yojin Yun, the owner of two maid service companies, allegedly contacted customers who wrote negative reviews of his maid services and asked them if they would be willing to delete their reviews in lieu of a full refund. Several customers who refused to do so noticed that they were charged a second time for the maid services. These customers then made complaints to the Department of Consumer Affairs which prompted an investigation resulting in charges against Mr. Yun.
Identity theft is covered under California Penal Code 530.5 PC and is described as taking another person’s personal identifying information and using it in an unlawful or fraudulent manner. In the case above, the “personal identifying information” were his alleged victims’ credit card numbers, and the “fraudulent or unlawful manner” in which they were used was to charge them for a service they didn’t receive.
PC 530.5 is a “wobbler,” meaning that it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances of the case. In the case above, the charges are misdemeanors, so they carry the possible sentence of up to one year in county jail and a fine of up to $1,000. However, the fact that Mr. Yun is facing seven separate charges means that he faces up to seven years in county jail and a fine of up to $7,000. This is because whenever someone steals another person’s personal information and uses it, it constitutes one separate violation of the law. This is true even if an individual uses the same victim’s information for multiple fraudulent purposes.
In felony cases of identity theft, individuals can face up to three years in county jail and a fine of up to $10,000.