Credit Card Fraud

When a person learns they are being charged with or accused of credit card fraud, a criminal defense attorney knowledgeable about and experienced with the New York Penal Law will have many questions. First, there is no crime of “Credit Card Fraud” in New York. While a New York criminal lawyer cannot advise as to other states and jurisdictions, credit card fraud as a criminal offense involves an entire spectrum of White Collar crimes and offenses. For example, is the credit card in question stolen? Is the debit card that is the subject of the fraud completely or partially fake? For that matter, is there a difference in the eyes of the law of “how fake” a credit card may be? Who is the victim of the fraud and does the misuse of the debit or credit card directly relate to a theft or larceny? Simply, as “simple” as this area of criminal law can ever be, in the State of New York credit card fraud and debit card fraud often involves multiple offenses including Grand Larceny, Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument, Forgery, Criminal Possession of Stolen Property, Identity theft and Falsifying Business Records. The more complex schemes may even touch on New York’s RICO statute, Enterprise Corruption as well as both Conspiracy and Scheme to Defraud.

Potential Credit Card Fraud Scenarios

Because credit card fraud is such a generic term covering different types of conduct, it’s hard to point to any one criminal act, but the following are only a small fraction of the means by which you can run afoul of the criminal law and face numerous different felony charges.

Bogus Credit Card

If you have a credit card that purports to be a legitimate credit card, such as an American Express card, or is a real and genuine debit card that has been only partially altered and contains a different account embedded within the chip or strip, then the same crimes would apply whether or not you actually used the credit card. These crimes would likely include Second Degree Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument, New York Penal Law 170.25, for the fictitious or altered credit card and First Degree Identity Theft, New York Penal Law 190.80, for the stolen account information embedded on the card.

Using a Stolen or Fake Credit Card

In the event you used a legitimate debit or credit card that was stolen or you actually stole the credit card then you would face the felony offenses of Fourth Degree Criminal Possession of Stolen Property, New York Penal Law 165.45(2), and Fourth Degree Grand Larceny, New York Penal Law 155.30(4), respectively. Upon signing a fake signature pretending to be the authorized user or merely utilizing that person’s account along with the fake or genuine credit card you would also face the crimes of Second Degree Forgery, New York Penal Law 170.10, and First Degree Identity Theft, New York Penal Law 190.80.

Other Crimes Involving Credit Card Fraud

Depending on how much you are alleged to have stolen or used in your credit card fraud scheme will directly relate to the degree of Grand Larceny or Criminal Possession of Stolen Property you face upon arrest. The threshold for these crimes raising the offenses to class “E”, “D”, “C” and “B” felonies directly relates to whether the theft or possession exceeds $1,000.00, $3,000.00, $50,000.00 or $1 million.

Keep in mind that all of the crimes listed above, including First Degree Falsifying Business Records, New York Penal Law 175.10, and Enterprise Corruption, New York Penal Law 460.20, are felonies. While you may be charged with each of these offenses, lesser felonies, or misdemeanors, the ultimate decision made by the prosecution directly correlates to your alleged conduct. What is of critical import, however, is that upon conviction of any of these crimes you will have a life altering criminal and felony or misdemeanor record. Is probation an option? Maybe, but so is exposure to up to four, seven, fifteen and twenty five years in a New York State Prison on any felony, the loss of your professional license and termination of your legal status in the United States.

By no means is the above list of crimes the only offenses that a District Attorney may accuse you of violating. While the courts, police departments, banks, credit card companies and private businesses are routinely overwhelmed with claims from victims that they have been wronged by a stranger who accessed their credit card information or the card itself, do not think that because of the abundance of this type of crime law enforcement will not take the time to pursue you for what you may believe is fairly insignificant. In fact, if you do so, do not be surprised that after the judge slams down his or her gavel you find yourself in handcuffs being led off to prison.

Do yourself a favor. If you have been accused of or arrested for any crime involving credit card fraud whether as part of a greater crime of Scheme to Defraud and Enterprise Corruption, or a one off misdemeanor or felony involving Criminal Possession of Stolen Property and Identity Theft, be smart and protect yourself both inside and outside the courtroom. Review your complaint or indictment, read up on the law and consult with a criminal lawyer who can bring you the closure and disposition you need to best keep your life on track.

Call the New York Credit Card Fraud Defense Attorneys and Former Manhattan Prosecutors at (212) 312-7129 or contact us online today

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