6 PM on a Thursday night. My friend's brother is about to go out when the doorbell rings. Two unhappily looking men and a warrant for arrest are outside. Oops.
5 AM on a Friday morning. Guess what ' no more sweet dreams because all of a sudden I should "locate and deliver" the lost brother who is slowly drifting his way through the New York City Criminal Justice digestive system. It should take about 24 hours from arrest to arraignment in New York and it could be difficult for relatives to find you during this time. So, locate? Maybe. Deliver? Not so fast.
After displaying some creative telephoning skills, I discover that our little problem is credit charges of credit card fraud, identity theft, and grand larceny. The poor fellow has helped himself to about $15,000. Bad for him, but really, he's lucky to be investigated by the local cops, not by the feds. This scenario repeats itself now and then. Well, not with my friend's brother, of course. In 1980, Visa and Master Card lost $110 million to credit card fraud.
In 1995, that number swell to about $1.63 billion, according to some reports. A 2005 FBI report showed that credit card fraud was the majority of the total $315 billion U.
S. financial fraud loss. Well, you got the point. Throw in the fraud opportunities presented by the Internet, and you can see that one of the economic effects of credit card fraud is that criminal defense attorneys will never be out of work.
Credit card fraud has many forms. The front-runner is the police ever-popular unauthorized use fraud. This is self-explanatory. Next in line is application fraud, which means that you have lied ' well, let's use a friendlier term "misspoke"- on your credit card application, usually by using fake name, address, etc.
Intercept fraud means that you apply for a credit card in your dear uncle's name and steal the card from the uncle's mailbox or post office before it arrives to him. Sometimes, you may see counterfeit credit cards, which means that you make (if you know how to do it) a piece of plastic that looks like a real credit card and uses real account information that you stole. (Yes, from your uncle, of course, who doesn't have a clue about this.
) The list goes on. Those criminals who are really into this can and do engage in more complicated schemes that require some know how, usually Internet-related. So, what lies ahead of the credit card fraud defendant after the dust settles? This really depends on the severity of charges, the amount of loss, prior criminal history, a bunch of other things, and yes, on court's jurisdiction.
The court of choice of a criminal defendant is the state court. Earn federal charges and colors of life will appear much bleaker to you. The great state of New York will probably throw at you charges of grand larceny, unauthorized credit card use, and identity theft. Other gifts may include charges of theft of services and possession of stolen property.
New Jersey will probably present you with charges of theft, false statements, intent to defraud, fraudulent use, and other charges. If you steal faster than your guarding angel can fly, there is a good chance you will steal your way into the federal prosecutors' net. Then, by the time your case is finished, you will have the intimate knowledge of the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act and other federal fraud charges contained in Title 18 of the U.S.C., including identification fraud (18 U.
S.C. §1028), credit card fraud (18 U.S.
C. §1029), computer fraud (18 U.S.
C. §1030), mail fraud (18 U.S.C.
§1341), wire fraud (18 U.S.C. §1343), and financial institution fraud (18 U.S.
C. §1344). Not enough? Well get this: each of these federal felony charges includes absolutely draconian penalties. As a criminal defense lawyer as well as a consumer, I recommend that you stay clear of credit card fraud, if you can, of course. If you cannot and now your local friendly law enforcement people have questions for you, my second recommendation is to call a criminal defense lawyer right away.
Copyright (c) 2008 Joseph Potashnik.
This article is provided by Joseph Potashik, a criminal defense attorney practicing in New York City and New Jersey. He represents criminal defendants in state and federal courts. Please visit Mr. Potashnik's websites at http://www.jpdefense.com (for New York)and http://www.jpcriminaldefense.com (for New Jersey). This article may be considered attorney advertising.