Fraud involving credit cards, debit cards and checks is rampant in New York City and New York State. It is likely that a day does not go by where a person is arrested for a crime relating to check or debit card fraud. After all, its fairly easy in terms of perpetrating and the results are often instant. It is not until days, weeks or months later that a complainant victim catches on or the police are notified. Unfortunately for the accused fraudster, that immediate gratification of a purchase or cash is grounds for an arrest and potentially incarceration for a litany of crimes and offenses found in the New York Penal Law. Although as a New York criminal lawyer and former Manhattan prosecutor I have encountered in some capacity all of these crimes, the creativity of the means by which these frauds are perpetrated never ceases to amaze me. While this blog entry will not address the different scams, it will address many of the potential crimes you can face if you commit credit card, debit card or check fraud in New York. Second Degree Forgery: NY PL 170.10
When you sign the receipt for the debit card or credit or you endorse or draft the check, you are altering or completing what is legally construed as a “written instrument.” Further, when doing so, you are affecting a legal right and interest. As a result, you are committing a “D” felony of Forgery in the Second Degree (New York Penal Law 170.10) that is punishable by up to seven years in prison. There is no monetary relevancy placed on the item you attempted or in fact purchased for this particular charge. The mere signing or apparently signing the name of the account holder along with these other elements that satisfies the felony offense of PL 170.10. Second Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument: NY PL 170.25
Similar to the Forgery statutes, the felony Second Degree Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument (New York Penal Law 170.25) is the “sister” crime to Second Degree Forgery. This offense deals with the possession of the written instrument after it is altered, affected or completed as opposed to the actual action of altering or affecting. You can look at this crime as having the receipt or the completed faked check as opposed to making the same. Alternatively, if the check or credit card is a complete fake or phony, there is no doubt Second Degree Forgery will be a crime you will face. Like Forgery in the Second Degree, Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree is a “D” felony punishable by up to seven years in prison. First Degree Falsifying Business Records: NY PL 175.10
Although this crime may not be viable in all scenarios, it is a felony worth noting. While the Forgery and Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument would use the rightful owner of the credit card, debit car or checking account as the complainant or victim, when the crime is Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree (New York Penal Law 175.10), the institution or business that permitted the transaction or accepted the fraud would take on this role. Simply, if you are hiding your attempt to commit another crime or you are in the scope of that other crime (larceny or theft, for example) and you make or cause a false entry to be made in the business records of an enterprise, then you are guilty of PL 175.10. An “E” felony, First Degree Falsifying Business Records is punishable by up to four years in prison.
To help paint the picture for Falsifying Business Records, if the online vendor or store where you purchased fraudulent items or the business account is altered in the records of your employer, even though you did not intentionally make this modification or change, your fraudulent actions caused this change. Therefore, this crime, while not as common as those listed above, can potentially be charged.
The crimes addressed above are only a few of the many offenses that a person arrested for signing or making out a fraudulent check or purchasing items with a stolen or fraudulent debit card will encounter. Part 2 of this series will address the potentially more serious crimes of Grand Larceny and Criminal Possession of Stolen Property.
To learn about these and other crimes associated with check or credit card fraud in New York, review this blog or the websites and content linked above and below.
Saland Law PC is a New York criminal defense firm founded by two former Manhattan Assistant District Attorneys. The New York criminal lawyers at Saland Law PC represent clients in criminal matters throughout the New York City and suburban area including arrests and investigations for credit card and check fraud, stolen debit cards and related crimes.