Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 18.2. Crimes and Offenses Generally
Chapter 6. Crimes Involving Fraud
6/19/2019

§ 18.2-187.1. Obtaining or attempting to obtain oil, electric, gas, water, telephone, telegraph, cable television or electronic communication service without payment; penalty; civil liability.

A. It shall be unlawful for any person knowingly, with the intent to defraud, to obtain or attempt to obtain, for himself or for another, oil, electric, gas, water, telephone, telegraph, cable television or electronic communication service by the use of any false information, or in any case where such service has been disconnected by the supplier and notice of disconnection has been given.

B. It shall be unlawful for any person to obtain or attempt to obtain oil, electric, gas, water, telephone, telegraph, cable television or electronic communication service by the use of any scheme, device, means or method, or by a false application for service with intent to avoid payment of lawful charges therefor.

B1. It shall be unlawful for any person to obtain, or attempt to obtain, electronic communication service as defined in § 18.2-190.1 by the use of an unlawful electronic communication device as defined in § 18.2-190.1.

C. The word "notice" as used in subsection A shall be notice given in writing to the person to whom the service was assigned. The sending of a notice in writing by registered or certified mail in the United States mail, duly stamped and addressed to such person at his last known address, requiring delivery to the addressee only with return receipt requested, and the actual signing of the receipt for such mail by the addressee, shall be prima facie evidence that such notice was duly received.

D. Any person who violates any provisions of this section, if the value of service, credit or benefit procured is $500 or more, shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony; or if the value is less than $500, shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. In addition, the court may order restitution for the value of the services unlawfully used and for all costs. Such costs shall be limited to actual expenses, including the base wages of employees acting as witnesses for the Commonwealth, and suit costs. However, the total amount of allowable costs granted hereunder shall not exceed $250, excluding the value of the service.

E. Any party providing oil, electric, gas, water, telephone, telegraph, cable television or electronic communication service who is aggrieved by a violation of this section may, in a civil proceeding in any court of competent jurisdiction, seek both injunctive and equitable relief, and an award of damages, including attorney fees and costs. In addition to any other remedy provided by law, the party aggrieved may recover an award of actual damages or $500, whichever is greater, for each action.

1978, c. 807; 1981, c. 197; 1992, c. 525; 1993, c. 439; 2002, c. 671; 2003, c. 354; 2018, cc. 764, 765.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of this section may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.