Credit Card Fraud

Credit Card Fraud

New York criminal law recognizes two categories of credit card fraud. The first pertains to the fraudulent use of credit cards that have been stolen, canceled or revoked. The second involves credit cards that are actually forged.

Stolen, revoked or canceled credit cards

Section 165.15(1) of the New York Penal Law (Theft of Services) makes it illegal to obtain or attempt to obtain goods or services using a credit card that you know to be “stolen.” Section 165.17 (Unlawful Use of a Credit Card) prohibits the unlawful use or display of a credit card that the person knows is revoked or canceled, to purchase anything. Both are Class A misdemeanors punishable by a $1,000 fine and up to a year in jail.

Credit card fraud can result in other, ancillary criminal charges. Stealing the card in the first place can result in prosecution for Criminal Possession of Stolen Credit Cards, a Class E felony that can send you to prison for up to four years. If you sign for a purchase using the name of the actual cardholder, then you may also be charged with forgery. Other charges that may apply include:

  • Credit Card Grand Larceny & Theft
  • Identity Theft in the First Degree
  • Grand Larceny from the Person (if you acquired the card by lifting someone’s wallet)

Forged credit cards

Possessing a credit card that has been altered or forged or is a fraudulent copy is Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree pursuant to New York Penal Law (NYPL) Section 170.25. This crime is a Class D felony that can result in a sentence of up to seven years in prison.

If you are accused of a larceny and theft crime related to credit card fraud, then you need to contact an experienced New York credit card fraud attorney immediately. Widespread media coverage of credit card information being stolen by hackers or ATM “skimming” devices have caused prosecutors and judges to take a highly punitive approach to the unlawful use of credit cards, and without expert legal representation, you can incur a harsher penalty.

Your criminal defense attorney will examine all potentially extenuating or exonerating circumstances. Did you have the owner’s permission to use the credit card? Was there an otherwise valid reason why it was in your possession? If the card was forged, then were you aware of that fact? Did the police search you illegally, making an allegedly stolen credit card inadmissible against you?

Whatever defenses your New York criminal lawyer recommends, it is imperative that your attorney has your best interest at heart. Julie Rendelman is a New York City criminal defense attorney with more than 20 years of experience practicing law. She offers free consultations and can be reached at 212-951-1232. The Law Offices of Julie Rendelman, LLC is conveniently located in Midtown Manhattan.