What Are You Facing if Accused of Skimming Fraud?
In March of 2014, 17 defendants were charged with federal fraud offenses for participation in an international skimming scheme. The Federal Bureau of Investigation reported that several of the defendants were arrested in Bulgaria and were awaiting extradition to the United States.
Federal authorities take skimming seriously, not only charging people within the United States but also pursuing criminal action against people anywhere in the world who are accused of skimming fraud. If you are charged with ATM skimming or credit card skimming, it is imperative you understand your legal rights.
A New York City credit card defense lawyer can represent local, national, and international clients who have been accused of skimming offenses. Get legal help as soon as you are under investigation, facing charges, or facing extradition.
Skimming is a type of credit card fraud or ATM card fraud. It involves the use of a skimmer, which is a small device that is affixed to the mouth of an ATM or credit card machine. The device can record information when consumers put their cards into the machine. The skimmer can record not just the card number but also security codes and other information from the magnetic stripe on the cards. Once the information is captured, counterfeit or duplicate cards can be created, the card data can be sold, or the card data can be used to make online purchases.
Skimmers can be attached to almost any card reader including:
- ATM card machines
- Redbox movie rental kiosks
- Gas pumps
- Store and restaurant card readers
Servers and store clerks can also use small mobile card readers to scan cards and store information. Both ATM card skimming and credit card skimming can capture hundreds or even thousands of credit card numbers over time as part of a skimming fraud scheme. Estimates indicate that the total funds stolen through ATM fraud alone exceeds $1 billion each year.
Penalties for Skimming Fraud
While state law enforcement officers can charge skimmers with larceny, identity theft, and fraud offenses, most cases of skimming are prosecuted by federal authorities. This is especially true for large fraud schemes and international criminal activities.
Skimmers are generally charged not with one federal crime, but with a huge number of separate offenses. When the FBI reported on the March 2014 arrests, the agency indicated that a 29 count indictment was returned, with one defendant personally facing 22 counts of wire fraud, four counts of money laundering, conspiracy, and obstruction of justice.
Each separate count of money laundering carries a potential penalty of 20 years imprisonment and a fine up to $500,000 or totaling twice the value of the laundered money. Under U.S. Code Section 1343, wire fraud conviction can mean a $1 million fine and 20 years imprisonment, or 30 years prison time if the fraud affects a financial institution. Arkady Bukh has a long track record of representing clients accused of serious federal and state crimes in NYC TOP RATED ON: SUPER LAWYERS, AVVO, NATIONAL TRIAL LAWYERS
Top Rated Criminal Lawyer
Arkady Bukh has a long track record of representing clients accused of serious federal and state crimes in NYC
TOP RATED ON: SUPER LAWYERS, AVVO, NATIONAL TRIAL LAWYERS
In addition to money laundering and wire fraud, skimming fraud can result in charges for:
- Identity theft (18 U.S. Code Section 1028)
- Bank fraud (S. Code Section 1344)
- Fraud in connection with computers (18 U.S. Code Section 1030)
- Fraud in connection with access devices (18 U.S. Code Section 1029)
Courts have interpreted bank fraud offenses broadly to include participation in any scheme or artifice likely to result in funds being obtained improperly from a financial institution. Both the use of a skimming device and the creation of cloned or fraudulent credit cards or ATM cards can be considered part of a bank fraud scheme.
Skimming Fraud and Conspiracy Charges
Skimming fraud often involves an effort by multiple parties to violate the law. Individuals can play different roles including:
- Placing the skimming device
- Recording and obtaining the stolen card information
- Selling or sharing stolen card information
- Producing duplicate or counterfeit cards
- Using counterfeit or fraudulent cards to withdraw funds or make purchases
If you play any part in the offense, you can become responsible for the whole offense under federal conspiracy laws found in 18 U.S. Code Section 1349. Conspiring to commit a fraud offense results in the same penalties that are imposed for the underlying crimes committed. This means even playing a minor role, like using a fraudulent ATM card as part of a larger skimming fraud, could lead to decades of prison time.
How a Skimming Fraud Lawyer Can Help You
Prosecutors have the burden of proving you violated fraud laws in relation to skimming fraud or credit card cloning. An experienced skimming fraud lawyer can help you to respond to charges. Your attorney can help you to:’
- Keep any illegally obtained evidence from being used to prove guilt for the offense. This can include information identified through illegal searches of computers.
- Negotiate a plea agreement to reduce penalties associated with conviction.
- Negotiate a grant of immunity in exchange for providing information about the skimming conspiracy
- Raise defenses to skimming charges
Because skimming can lead to multiple federal charges and decades of prison time, it is important to be represented by an attorney with strong experience in these complicated cases.
Contact a New York criminal defense lawyer for help responding to the charges against you.