In New Jersey, charges for credit card fraud can be serious with long-term consequences to a person’s life. New Jersey’s credit card fraud statute, N.J.S.A. 2C:21-6, makes it illegal to do the following: make false statements when applying for a credit card; commit credit card theft; or use a credit card fraudulently.
The punishments for various credit card crimes vary with fines and possible prison sentences. Fraudulent use of a credit card is a third degree crime and the defendant is subject to as much as $15,000 in fines and up to five years in prison. Fraudulently signing a credit card or selling or buying a credit card is a fourth degree crime and leaves the defendant facing the possibility of $10,000 in fines and up to 18 months in prison. If the defendant has possession of a lost, misplaced or mistakenly delivered credit card with the intent to use it, it is a fourth degree crime with fines and as much as 18 months in prison if convicted.
Obtaining a Credit Card Through False Statements
New Jersey law states that if false statements are knowingly made in the acquisition of a credit card, it is a crime in the fourth degree. To prove this allegation, the New Jersey prosecutor must establish that a false statement as to the identity of the defendant or for a third party was made in writing, that the statement was knowingly and intentionally false with the intention of receiving the credit card, and that the creditor would rely on the information provided when coming to the decision as to whether or not to extend credit.
Theft of a Credit Card
Below are the ways one can be charged with the theft of a credit card in New Jersey:
- If a person takes a credit card without the holder of that card’s consent, it falls into the category of theft. This is essentially stealing the card and using it while the bill will go to the person in whose name the card is registered. It is a crime in the fourth degree.
- If a person received a misplaced or lost credit card, or a credit card that was delivered to him or her by mistake, it is considered credit card theft if the person continues to retain it with the intent to use it. Simply put, if it’s not your card, you’re not supposed to use it even if it was sent to your home or you found it. This is a crime in the fourth degree.
- If the credit card is sold or purchased from a person who is not the issuer of the card, it is illegal. The credit card is a contract between the cardholder and the creditor and it cannot be transferred to another person. It is a crime in the fourth degree.
- If the credit card is received by a person in order to secure a debt, it is not valid. You can’t give someone a credit card and let them use it to pay off a loan in lieu of cash.
- If a credit card is made, counterfeited or modified, it is illegal. Credit cards can’t be altered or created by an individual person. This is a crime in the third degree. If an individual is in possession of equipment to make false credit cards, it is also a third degree offense.
- If a credit card is signed by an unauthorized person, it is a crime. You can’t sign a credit card that doesn’t belong to you and use it.
Using a Credit Card Fraudulently
In the event that a credit card has expired, was revoked or was forged, it is deemed used fraudulently and is a crime in the third degree. The prosecutor must determine that the card was used with the intent to defraud the creditor, that it was expired, revoked or forged, and that the defendant was aware of the issues making the card legally unusable.
A person who has the card and claims to be permitted to use it without actually having that permission is committing credit card fraud. This is a crime in the third degree and requires that the person using the card represented that he or she was the owner of the card, intended to defraud the owner of the card and/or the person providing the good or service that the card was intended to pay for, and something of value was acquired through use of the card.
If the person who is accepting the credit card for goods and services knows that the credit card is fraudulent, they are guilty of a third degree criminal offense. The defendant in this case must have provided the goods or services and been authorized to do so, let the card be used for fraudulent purposes, and was aware that the card was expired, revoked, or forged.
Contact a Lawyer for Help with a Charge of Credit Card Fraud
If you have been charged with credit card fraud in a New Jersey town, such as Brick, Long Branch, Toms River, Lakewood or anywhere else in Ocean County or Monmouth County, you need to contact an experienced attorney from Villani & DeLuca in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey.
Whether you may have done something you shouldn’t have done or are caught up in a misunderstanding, the penalties and long-term ramifications from criminal charges related to credit card fraud can have a negative influence on your future. It can destroy a person’s credit, appear on background checks, result in hefty fines and possibly jail time. Don’t make a bad mistake or misunderstanding worse by failing to have a proper legal defense. Call Villani & DeLuca today for your free consultation on your case.