You Have Options if Accused of Credit Card Fraud – Explored by NYC Defense Lawyer
According to the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, credit card fraud is defined as “the unauthorized use of a credit/ debit card, or card number, to fraudulently obtain money or property.” Credit card fraud can involve taking someone’s physical credit card and using it. More commonly, credit card fraud involves obtaining credit card numbers without authorization and using the card numbers, or obtaining someone’s personally-identifying information and applying for credit in that individual’s name.
When you are accused of credit card fraud, you could be charged with a state-level crime or with a federal offense. Bukh Law Firm, PLLC provides legal representation to clients on trial in New York or being prosecuted by a U.S. attorney. Our firm has represented some of the FBI’s most-wanted credit card fraud defendants and we have handled high-profile credit card fraud cases with millions of dollars at stake. When you need an attorney with unparalleled experience in credit card fraud cases, call Bukh Law Firm, PLLC.
What is Credit Card Fraud?
In 2014, 56 million shoppers at Home Depot had their credit card information stolen through the retailer’s point-of-sale system. The thefts occurred over a period of six months and the breach was the largest theft of credit card data in history, narrowly beating the theft of data on 40 million cards from Target that occurred just a few months before.
Credit card fraud schemes like those perpetrated to obtain data from Home Depot and Target are common. Large volumes of credit card data are obtained, packaged, and sold to third-parties on the black market. Stolen credit card information can then be used to charge goods and services, withdraw funds, or otherwise acquire property and assets.
The federal government typically becomes involved in prosecutions when large-scale credit fraud schemes occur. Defendants can face multi-count indictments, with each individual charge potentially carrying a maximum penalty of decades of incarceration.
Not every credit card fraud scheme involves computers, hackers, or sophisticated plans. Some schemes are as simple as grabbing a credit card out of someone’s wallet and using it without justification. While these kinds of simple small-scale credit card frauds will usually trigger only state-level charges, this is not always the case. The federal government can investigate and prosecute whenever fraud crimes occur that are illegal under the United States Code.
At Bukh Law Firm, PLLC, our experienced credit card fraud attorneys have provided legal representation both in simple credit card fraud cases and in complex international credit card fraud schemes. Whenever you have been accused of misuse of a credit card or card data, our attorneys are here to help you respond to charges.
Types of Credit Card Fraud
Some of the different kinds of credit card fraud that can result in criminal actions include:
Online/ internet/ cyber and electronic card theft
The Internet is used to obtain and sell credit information. Phishing scams and hacking are two approaches that can be taken to try to obtain credit card data using the Internet. Black market websites make it possible for card numbers to be sold or for identifying information like Social Security numbers to be sold or distributed (the SSN numbers can then be used to obtain credit). Both those who unlawfully obtain the credit card details and those who facilitate the sale of card data can face criminal charges, as can individuals who purchase and use unlawfully obtained card info without authorization.
Debit card fraud
Debit card fraud is very similar to other types of credit card fraud but it involves a debit card that has been linked to a bank account. Debit card fraud makes it possible to withdraw funds from a bank account or credit institution.
Skimming including ATM fraud and retail fraud
Skimming is one of the most common types of credit card fraud schemes. Skimming devices can be installed on ATMs, in card readers in restaurants, and in card processing machines or card readers in retail establishments. When the card is put into the ATM or machine, its data is recorded. This provides all of the information necessary to use or sell the credit card data.
Identity thefts and credit card fraud
When someone’s identifying information is obtained (including a name, address, phone number, Social Security number, and other private details), the stolen identity can be used to obtain a credit card. The person whose identity has been taken will have the debts listed on his or her credit report, unless or until he or she fights to have the unlawful cards and charges removed.
Pre-paid credit card fraud
Pre-paid card fraud involves using the balances on a prepaid card without authorization. There are high-tech and low-tech ways to engage in pre-paid card fraud. In some cases, card data is obtained by simply standing behind someone and taking a cell-phone video of the card being used. By going frame-by-frame, the card information and PIN can be determined and a cloned card can be created and used to drain the funds on the prepaid card. Skimming and other standard credit card fraud schemes can also be used for prepaid card fraud.
Gift card fraud
One common type of gift card fraud occurs when card numbers are recorded when the cards are on the shelf. A phone call or online check of the balance can subsequently reveal which of the gift cards have been activated and now have money on them. The card numbers that were recorded can be used to drain the cards of funds once it has been determined that the gift card is active.
Chip card fraud
Chip credit cards are an attempt by credit card company’s to reduce the risk of credit card fraud. Chip cards replace the traditional magnetic strip on cards, making skimming virtually impossible and reducing the chances that someone will be able to get hold of and make use of credit card data. When a chip credit card is used, it contains an EMV chip that generates a unique code for each transaction. Most card readers, however, do not have chip readers so cards equipped with EMV chips still have to be used the old fashioned way (and fraud is thus still possible).
Corporate or company credit card fraud:
An employee embezzling company funds through improper use of the corporate or company credit card is a common and simple type of company credit card fraud. Corporate and company cards are also susceptible to other types of fraud, including the risk of a cloned card being created if the card data is skimmed or otherwise falls into the wrong hands.
Card not present fraud:
The Credit Card Fraud Act of 1984 aimed to make it easier to charge people with credit card fraud even if they did not have actual access to a stolen credit card. Someone who obtains card data to sell or to create a cloned card can be held accountable for credit card fraud even though the physical card was never under the defendant’s control.
Merchant credit card fraud
including chargeback fraud and merchant credit card fraud: Merchant credit card fraud occurs when a merchant is defrauded in some manner related to credit. One possible risk is that a buyer who purchased an item or used a service will deny the legitimacy of the transaction. The credit card company may issue a chargeback, which means the money paid to the merchant will be taken back from the merchant. Buyers who have denied legitimate transactions that they participated in willingly may be committing fraud against the merchant if they seek a chargeback without justification. Merchants are also at risk of merchant credit card fraud because the company identity could be stolen to begin processing charges made by cloned or stolen credit cards.
These are just a few of many examples of potential credit card fraud schemes. If you are accused of any involvement in any part of the scheme, even if your involvement is minimal, you may be charged with all crimes committed by co-conspirators to the fraud. You need to begin protecting yourself right away if you are under investigation or have been arrested. Bukh Law Firm, PLLC attorneys can help you from the first time you are questioned or taken into custody until the final resolution of your case.
International Retail Fraud and Card Rings
International retail fraud and international credit card theft rings are extremely common. In many cases, someone offshore works with people in the U.S. to obtain credit card data and misuse or sell it. For example, a person who allegedly steals a credit card in the United States could transmit the information to someone outside the country who does transactions with the card or who facilitates the sale of the data to a vast criminal network.
International retail fraud and international credit card rings will usually trigger a federal investigation. Being accused of card fraud offenses can mean that the United States will try to extradite you. Depending upon where you are located, authorities could force you to come to the U.S. to stand trial if you are in another country and have been accused of participation in an international credit card fraud ring. You could also be arrested when you step foot on U.S. soil if there is a warrant out for your arrest due to your involvement in a retail fraud ring or card fraud ring.
Is credit card fraud a felony?
Credit card fraud is usually, but not always, a felony offense . Felonies are more serious crimes, which usually result in more than a year of jail time. Whether credit card fraud will be considered a felony or not depends upon many different things including the aggregate amount obtained for the defendant or taken from the alleged victim.
At Bukh Law Firm, PLLC, we have helped many clients facing felony charges for credit card fraud or other offenses.
Defending you and trying to secure a verdict or not guilty is the ideal goal when you have been charged. However, it is also possible to get charges reduced or a prosecutor’s recommendation of a light sentence if you are concerned about trying to beat the charges.
Our New York City credit card fraud defense lawyers will try to get your charges reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor whenever possible so you can move on as quickly and easily as possible with your life after being accused of breaking the law. Arkady Bukh has a long track record of representing clients accused of serious federal and state crimes in NYC TOP RATED ON:
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Federal vs. New York Credit Card Fraud Laws
In the 1980’s, credit card fraud was becoming an increasingly common crime and a major legal issue. The Credit Card Fraud Act was signed in 1984 to try to curb the illegal behavior of obtaining and misusing credit card data.
Codified in 18 U.S. Code Section 1029, the Credit Card Fraud Act makes it clear that a defendant can be charged with a federal offense simply for intentionally and knowingly obtaining credit card information improperly, even if the defendant never sees or touches the physical card. This is because Section 1029 prohibits the use of “access devices,” which can include credit cards.
Section 1029 is one of the most common statutes used to prosecute defendants accused of involvement in credit card fraud schemes or international credit card fraud rings. However, it is not the only federal criminal charge applicable to the misuse of credit cards. 15 U.S. Code Section 1644 also criminalizes the offenses of:
- Using, attempting to use, or conspiring to use a credit card without authorization in a transaction involving interstate or foreign commerce.
- Transporting, conspiring to transport, or attempting to transport a credit card obtained or used without authorization in interstate commerce.
- Using interstate commerce to either transport a misappropriated credit card or sell it.
- Receiving, concealing, or using money, services, goods, or other items of value that were obtained through credit card fraud.
In addition to being charged with these crimes specific to the misuse of credit cards and access devices, a defendant can also be prosecuted under other federal laws as well including laws prohibiting identity theft, wire fraud, bank fraud, computer fraud crimes, and money laundering.
When it comes to NY laws, there are also different potential criminal charges a defendant could face including:
- Theft of services (NY Penal code Section 165.15): Obtaining or trying to obtain a service or trying to induce the supplier to provide a service while knowing that the intention is to pay for the service with a stolen credit card.
- Unlawful use of credit or debit cards, or unlawful use of public benefit cards (NY Penal Code Section 165.17): Using or displaying a credit card or public benefit card that you know is cancelled or has been revoked.
- Identity theft: There are different degrees of identity theft defined in Article 190 of the New York penal code including first, second, and third degree ID theft as well as aggravated identity theft.
Both state and federal defendants can end up sentenced to a lengthy period of incarceration and can be required to make restitution. While federal crimes usually have more significant consequences than state-level criminal offenses, this does not mean that conviction for state crimes won’t change your life forever. You owe it to yourself to be represented by an attorney with knowledge of how to handle credit card fraud cases so you can try to plea bargain down your charges, get a lesser sentence, or get a verdict of not guilty.
Bukh Law Firm, PLLC has provided legal representation to defendants who faced statutory maximum sentences of decades of incarceration due to their part in large-scale credit card fraud schemes. Our attorneys were able to help clients avoid being convicted, or to argue for leniency in cases where defendants plead guilty or were found guilty. Call us today to learn more about what we can do in your case.
What are The Charges for Credit Card Fraud?
State and federal authorities will make the decision on whether you should be prosecuted on the state level or the federal level. You do not get to opt for your particular court of choice. When a federal indictment or true bill is handed down, you need to be prepared to face charges for a variety of federal offenses. If you are not indicted by a U.S. Attorney but instead are arrested and facing a New York city prosecutor, you need to begin preparing your case to present in state court.
Bukh Law Firm, PLLC has represented defendants on the state and federal level, and we always work hard to try to get charges dropped; cases dismissed from consideration; or defendants allowed to walk free at the end of trial. Give us a call to learn about how we can help with credit card fraud criminal charges.
First Offenses vs. Repeat Credit Card Fraud Offenders
Like most criminal offenses, prior convictions for credit card fraud can make your legal situation worse. If you have been convicted of credit card fraud or related offenses in the past, you will generally lose eligibility for any type of pre-trial diversion program you may have been able to participate in. Prosecutors and U.S. attorney may be less inclined to offer plea deals to repeat offenders. With limited options before trial, you may feel as if you have no real choice about going to court to try to defend yourself.
Penalties become significantly more serious for repeat offenders. For a first offense when charged with unlawful use of an access device, you generally face a maximum sentence of 10-years imprisonment. For a repeat offense, the maximum sentence could go up to 20-years. Under New York law, a second conviction for identity theft can elevate a second-degree offense to a first-degree offense; or a third-degree offense to a second-degree offense. This could take the charges from a misdemeanor to a felony.
At Bukh Law Firm, PLLC, our attorneys will try hard to prevent your previous convictions from leading to harsh sentences. Your attorney can deal with the prosecutor and U.S. attorney on your behalf about trying to enter a plea, or can help you to defend yourself to try to avoid any penalties and keep your good name.
Penalties for Credit Card Fraud and Scams
Penalties for credit card fraud scams vary significantly depending upon whether you faced state or federal charges, what the charges are, and whether you have past offenses or not.
In New York, the simple unlawful use of a credit card is a misdemeanor. However, if you were able to obtains something of value, then you could instead be charged with grand larceny. If the credit card fraud scam involved identity theft or hacking, then you can also be charged with separate offenses for these crimes. Identity theft may be a misdemeanor if less than $500 was obtained throughout the entire fraud scheme. If $500 or more was obtained, identity theft becomes a felony in New York State.
At the federal level, a defendant who is charged with fraud in connection with an access device could be sentenced to a maximum of between 10 and 20 years imprisonment. If the defendant was charged with knowingly using, trafficking in or producing one or more counterfeit access devices with the intent to defraud, the defendant could be imprisoned for up to 10 years and face a fine. If an offense occurs after a prior conviction, however, the maximum period of imprisonment is 20 years.
Other federal offenses also lead to decades of of jail time . Identity fraud can lead to 15-years in prison for behaviors like transferring identifying information or being in possession of five or more false identifications. Wire, mail, and bank fraud all can result in a maximum penalty of $1 million and a maximum of 30-years in prison.
Defenses and Credit Card Theft Criminal Lawyers
Do not take a chance and trust just any lawyer to defend you when you are accused of credit card theft. Bukh Law Firm, PLLC has provided legal representation to some of the most famous and notorious identity theft criminals from Russia, the United States, and worldwide.
If you want a knowledgeable white collar crime lawyer who knows credit card fraud laws inside and out, call Bukh Law Firm, PLLC for help today.