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Articles Posted in Identity Theft

The pressure and drive to exceed in school never ends. Instead of studying a little longer and a little harder, however, the answer for some students is figuring out the best shortcut. According to the Kathleen Rice and the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office, Sam Eshaghoff, a former University of Michigan and current Emory student, was arrested after sitting for the SAT on behalf of at least a half a dozen high school students in exchange for thousands of dollars. Not a full fledged criminal enterprise, but more than an amateur operation, its further alleged that Eshaghoff sat for the SAT on Long Island at schools where administrators would not know the real students. Further, it is claimed that Eshagoff was armed with fake and phony New York State drivers licenses.

As interesting and as appealing as this case is, I have witnessed these types of scams on a much larger and even an international scale. As a Manhattan prosecutor, I led the investigation and prosecution of approximately two dozen individuals for either fraudulently taking or paying another person to take the GRE, GMAT and TOEFL. Education Testing Service (ETS) administers these examinations as well as the SAT. The Manhattan criminal enterprise, which extended well beyond the borders of New York and the United States, was extensive. Using faking passports at examinations centers and providing fraudulent diplomas, recommendation letters, transcripts, bank statements and other materials to universities and colleges throughout the United States, hundreds of students began their studies not on merit, but on fraud. In fact, the investigation revealed these students enrolled at NYU Stern School of Business, Columbia University Teachers College, Baruch College, UCLA, University of Michigan, Tulane Medical School, Canada’s McGill University and many other prestigious institutions.

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As a prosecutor in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office for over seven years, I supervised and led investigations, arrests, indictments into complex identity theft and fraud related crimes and schemes. One of those investigations and indictments resulted in the conviction of numerous individuals who posed as professional graduate school entrance examination test-takers. These defendants created fake passports and use the identification information of the legitimate prospective student to sit for the GMAT, GRE, TOEFL and other examinations. Indicted for the crimes of Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument, Falsifying Business Records and Identity Theft, none of the attorneys who represented the accused challenged the crime of Identity Theft based on the theory that their respective client was given permission and authority by the legitimate student to use that student’s personal information to cheat the colleges and universities. If nothing else, the idea that one cannot commit identity theft because one was given permission to use the personal information, albeit to defraud a third party, was worth pursuing in a court of law in light of the other overwhelming evidence. While other crimes may have been perpetrated, an argument could have been made that Identity Theft was not one of them.

Generally, you are guilty of Identity Theft in New York (New York Penal Law 190.78) in New York when, with the intent to defraud, you present yourself as another person by using that person’s personal identifying information. In doing so, also obtain goods, money or some other form of property. This crime is enhanced through the value of the property or goods, as well as through other means to the crimes of New York Penal law 190.79 and New York Penal Law 190.80.

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Identity Theft, one of the most significant and frequently prosecuted crimes in New York City as well as the State of New York, is a growing concern for prosecutors and law enforcement. Although there are many New York criminal lawyers who have a general knowledge of the crimes and punishment associated with Identity Theft, they may not have a command of the statutes. Those statutes are New York Penal Law 190.78 (Third Degree Identity Theft), New York Penal Law 190.79 (Second Degree Identity Theft) and New York Penal Law 190.80 (First Degree Identity Theft). While Identity Theft in the Third Degree is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail, Identity Theft in the Second and Third Degrees are “E” and “D” felonies punishable by up to four and seven years in state prison respectively.

Because many people do not fully understand the nuances of the Identity Theft criminal statutes, Crotty Saland PC has put together a New York Identity Theft Crime Information Page. The purpose of this page is not to give advice to those accused of Identity Theft crimes or to attorneys representing clients charged with Identity Theft offenses, but to be a source of education for anyone interested in learning more about New York criminal law.

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Do I need a New York criminal lawyer? I found a credit card in Manhattan and used that credit card to buy a pair of jeans at Macys for $175. I took my friend’s credit card and purchased $600 worth of makeup and other accessories in a Brooklyn store without my friend’s permission. I used a credit card that was fake and had another person’s account number programmed on to it. What is “credit card fraud” and did I commit it? Can I be charged with a felony or go to prison? What are the crimes and potential charges in New York City for credit card fraud?

The following blog entry is a brief analysis of the potential crimes in New York State relating to credit card theft and possession, use of a stolen credit card, counterfeit and fake credit cards and other offenses. These potential crimes range from “A” misdemeanors punishable by up to one year in jail to “D” felonies punishable by up to seven years in state prison.

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Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. announced earlier today that his office’s Cybercrime and Identity Theft Bureau has taken down and arrested a 27 person Identity Theft ring based out of Brooklyn, New York. Prosecutors allege that “S3,” as the crew calls themselves, “compromised hundreds of bank accounts,and fraudulently purchased Apple products from stores around the country to resell for profit.”

It is claimed that these Identity Theft bandits obtained personal identifying information of their victims by purchasing this information online through people who trafficked the data. Once the alleged fraudsters obtained the information, including credit card numbers, the leaders recruited individuals who would shop in stores with the credit card numbers. The shoppers duped Apple employees after ring leaders allegedly created fraudulent and counterfeit credit cards and placed the stolen credit card number onto the magnetic strip of the counterfeit credit card. Armed with a counterfeit credit card in the name of a shopper, these hired guns allegedly made the Apple purchases for items including iPads and MacBooks.

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When one thinks of Embezzlement in New York, one usually thinks of a Grand Larceny type scheme. While this may be true, experienced New York criminal lawyers will tell you that an Embezzlement based Grand Larceny investigation, arrest or indictment may only be the tip of the iceberg. In fact, while one’s main objective may be a theft, there are numerous other crimes that one may face if one is charged or arrested for Grand Larceny by Embezzlement in New York.

A savvy and experienced prosecutor is likely able to throw a litany of charges at you that tie back to a Grand Larceny and Embezzlement arrest. If one doesn’t stick, the prosecutor realizes that there are many additional charges that may. Obviously, some Embezzlement charges in New York are more serious than others. For most people, however, any type of felony conviction will cripple their career. While no New York criminal defense attorney can guarantee a particular result in the face of an Embezzlement charge, arrest or indictment, he or she should be able to assess your case, discuss the possible charges and implement a defense.

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Identity Theft (New York Penal Law section 190.78, New York Penal Law section 190.79 and New York Penal Law section 190.80), one of the more prevalent crimes prosecuted by Assistant District Attorneys in New York, is often associated with offenses such as Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument, Forgery and Grand Larceny. More often than not, when and if there is a plea to multiple charges in an indictment, the sentences run concurrent. This means that the sentence on all of the crimes run at the same time as opposed to after each other (this is called consecutive). One of the reasons that a sentence is completed this way is because the crimes are all part of the same transaction.

As noted above, in the realm of Identity Theft crimes in New York, the offenses are often times not on an island, but part of other criminal schemes. Therefore, one would hope that if a plea is the best option, that plea would run concurrent to other sentences. Sadly, for one individual, this was not the case.

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Crotty Saland PC, a New York white collar criminal defense firm founded by two former Manhattan prosecutors, is pleased to announced a recent “victory” and “top result” on behalf of a client charged with Embezzlement Grand Larceny in the Third Degree (New York Penal Law 155.35) and Identity Theft in the First Degree (New York Penal Law 190.80). Our client, an accountant and former board member for a not-for-profit organization in New York City, faced up to seven years in prison on each charge after prosecutors alleged that he had opened up a line of credit in a board member’s name. The District Attorney’s Office further claimed that our client used the board member’s information to maintain that line of credit. Ultimately, prosecutors concluded that our client funneled $25,000 from the bank for his own use.

Despite the allegations of Identity Theft as a means to perpetrate the Grand Larceny and Embezzlement, we successfully argued that the complainant had actually given our client the authority to open the account many years earlier even though the complainant initially denied this. Fortunately, we were able to find some corroboration to this defense. Ultimately, after a few months of wrangling, prosecutors agreed to dismiss the felony Identity Theft charge against our client and reduce the felony Grand Larceny charge to one misdemeanor count of Petit Larceny (the “shoplifting statute”). Although our client ultimately pleaded to the Petit Larceny in full satisfaction of all of the allegations against him, our client avoided the career ending and life altering collateral consequences of a felony conviction. Moreover, he did not have to make any restitution as part of his plea. Make no mistake. A misdemeanor is still a crime, but not as devastating as a felony with the associated maximum of seven years in state prison and restitution in the amount of $25,000.

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Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance landed himself a solid indictment yesterday. If the number of charges are actually any indication of how solid an indictment is, the 106 counts against Nefertit Garnett and 80 counts against Zoe Walmsely are very telling. Charged with Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, Identity Theft in the First Degree, Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree, Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, and Attempted Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, the defendants are each alleged to have stolen in excess of $100,000 from Chase bank using the identifying information of numerous people.

According to the press release:

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Before the dawn of identity theft laws, the crime of Criminal Impersonation, pursuant to New York Penal Law sections 190.25 and 190.26, was the weapon of the assistant district attorney to prosecute fraud crimes related to one’s identification or persona in New York. This entry will address the crime of Criminal Impersonation in Second Degree (NY PL 190.25) and Criminal Impersonation in the First Degree (NY PL 190.26). A second entry will address legal decisions applicable to these laws.

Criminal Impersonation in the Second Degree – New York Penal Law 190.25

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